Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
The NBA’s growing wave of coronavirus-related concerns struck the Mavericks on Friday, when, according to two sources, one player tested positive for COVID-19 and two others had to be quarantined for contact tracing.
All three players, the sources said, remained in Denver while the rest of the players and team staff returned to Dallas on the team plane.
The Mavericks are scheduled to host Orlando on Saturday night. Even though the sources said the two quarantined Mavericks have tested negative for the coronavirus, NBA protocols stipulate that the players remain quarantined for at least seven days.
Can confirm @ShamsCharania report that 3 Mavs had to remain in Denver. “One positive, two for safety protocols,” Mavs source says.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) January 8, 2021
Though the Mavericks as of Friday afternoon had not revealed the identities of the players who remained in Denver, star guard Luka Doncic does not appear to be one of them, based on an Instagram video that he posted from the team plane.
The NBA season began on Dec. 22 and games have remained interruption-free despite spiking COVID-19 cases across the country. In recent days, however, multiple teams have incurred virus-related problems.
On Monday it was learned that Nets star Kevin Durant faced a seven-day quarantine period due to exposure to someone who tested positive for the virus.
On Thursday it was reported that Philadelphia guard and former Maverick Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19, and that multiple teammates will miss games due to contact tracing.
Also Thursday, the Mavericks’ Thursday night opponent, Denver, learned that Michael Porter Jr., who already has missed four games, will remain in the league’s health and safety protocol for an indefinite period.
And prior to the Mavericks’ revelations on Friday, the Boston Celtics learned that center Robert Williams III tested positive for COVID-19 and that fellow frontcourt players Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson will miss time while quarantining.
Before the Mavericks’ Thursday night overtime win against the Nuggets, coach Rick Carlisle discussed the difficulties of trying to create, in effect, a traveling bubble while following the 134-page health and safety protocols that were distributed to all 30 teams prior to training camps.
In asking a question of Carlisle, a reporter described COVID-19 as fickle.
“I think fickle is being kind,” Carlisle said. “It’s way worse than just fickle.
“Part of the medical protocols and doing 24-hour testing and rapid-testing is that if someone does test positive, there’s a period of slightly more than 24 hours where there’s an incubation period. And during that first 24 hours it’s believed that a person who contracts it is not contagious.
“The system allows for a positive test to be pulled from the group to quarantine to get another test that it was positive. For all of this to work, you have to follow the details of the daily protocols.”
Carlisle said the Mavericks have the best medical/training staff in the NBA, led by director of player health and performance Casey Smith, head athletic trainer Dionne Calhoun and assistant athletic trainer Heather Mau.
“We’ve just got to stay steadfast and understand that there are no guarantees,” Carlisle said. “When you try to create a traveling bubble, which we’re doing as a league, there are certainly more variables. But the hope is that if somebody does throw a positive test out there that they can be pulled from the group and that you can kind of move forward from there.”
On Friday, that happened to a Maverick, and it resulted in two others going into quarantine. Now the Mavericks and other NBA teams will brace for whatever comes next.