The Phoenix Suns are now the latest NBA team to deal with contact tracing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, and their game Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks was called off by the league after it was learned they wouldn’t have enough players cleared to participate.
That was the third game on Wednesday’s schedule to be called, joining Utah at Washington and Orlando at Boston. It also marks the second consecutive time that a team ran into issues after playing in Washington; the Miami Heat lost eight players to COVID-related issues following their road game against the Wizards on Saturday.
The postponement was the sixth in the league since Sunday, and the seventh overall this season.
“I think the biggest thing is, obviously we want to be safe, first and foremost, but we want to figure out how we can do it," Heat guard Duncan Robinson said. “Because recently, I think probably the biggest thing we’ve all struggled with is the uncertainty of, ‘Who’s playing? Who’s out? What are we doing? What’s this protocol? What’s that protocol?’ So, that’s been frustrating but everyone’s going through it."
On Tuesday, the league and the National Basketball Players Association released updated rules that will be in place for “at least the next two weeks,” requiring players and team staff to remain at their residences when in their home markets and being prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games.
Additional measures now include limiting team pregame meetings in locker rooms to 10 minutes, with the extra caveat that everyone must wear a mask. The mask-wearing rules in bench areas during games have also been stiffened.