Make it three Miami Heat players who have now tested positive for coronavirus, with the latest two players to test positive not expected to travel with the team when the rest of the roster leaves Wednesday for the NBA’s quarantine setting at Disney World.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel has confirmed through an NBA source that two most recent COVID-19 positive tests came from a testing round earlier this past week, before the Heat on Thursday shut down the practice court at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The most recent round of testing did not result in any other positive results. A member of the team’s staff also had previously tested positive.
The Heat will continue to test players on an every-other-day basis at the arena before their Wednesday bus departure, but no longer will host what had been ongoing individual workout sessions.
The latest positive test results came in the wake of Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. previously being identified by an NBA source as testing positive for COVID-19. The latest two players testing positive, both part of the team’s primary rotation, have not been identified due to a privacy request.
Jones is expected to clear his quarantine and be part of the Heat’s Wednesday traveling party.
The timing of the two most recent positive tests could keep those players from the Heat’s group workouts at Disney, with the Heat scheduled to open a three-game exhibition schedule there on July 22 and then resume regular-season play on Aug. 1, before moving on to the playoffs.
At 41-24, the Heat already have clinched a playoff berth, with the postseason to begin in mid-August, after an eight-game schedule to complete the regular season.
According to the NBA’s coronavirus guidelines, travel to Disney will only be allowed, “only for those who (i) have not returned a positive test for COVID-19 since June 23, (ii) have tested positive, but thereafter have been medically cleared to travel (based on lack of symptoms, at least two consecutive negative PCR tests, and clearance to discontinue isolation), (iii) report no symptoms on day of travel, and (iv) do not live with a household member who has or recently had COVID-19 or symptoms.”
Although at the NBA roster limit of 17 players, the Heat would be able to replace a player who tests positive and either is unable to continue or elects to bypass the restart.
The NBA’s policy is that a player produce two negative tests before he is allowed to rejoin teammates, with the Heat’s expectation of losing the two players who most recently tested positive for at least 10 days.
The NBA will resume its season at the Wide World of Sports complex, where the resumption of games will be played in the absence of spectators.
The league shut down on March 11 in the wake of the NBA’s first positive COVID-19 result, by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that the plan is to push forward with the resumption unless the amount of positive tests makes the plan untenable.
The NBA issued their latest update on its testing Thursday, a round that included the two most-recent Heat positive tests.
“In tests conducted of 344 NBA players between June 24-29,” an NBA statement read, “an additional nine players have tested positive for the coronavirus. Twenty-five of 351 players have tested positive since testing began on June 23.
“In tests conducted of 884 team staff between June 23-29, 10 have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Any player, coach or team staff member who tested positive will remain in self-isolation until they satisfy public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and have been cleared by a physician.”
The exhibition schedule released Saturday by the NBA has the Heat playing the Sacramento Kings at 8 p.m. on July 22, the Utah Jazz at 4 p.m. on July 25 and the Memphis Grizzlies at 2 p.m. on July 28. Those games will be played at the same arenas at the Wide World of Sports complex that the league will utilize for the resumption. The expectation is some or all of the Heat’s exhibitions will be televised in South Florida on Fox Sports Sun.
©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)