OKLAHOMA CITY — The 76ers are dealing with another round of contact tracing related to the coronavirus.
This time, it forced the postponement of their Sunday night game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Sixers did not have the eight required available players because of their ongoing contact tracing for COVID-19.
Coach Doc Rivers and team president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, who travels with the team, were not made available for comment.
The Sixers had no new positive COVID-19 tests to report as of Sunday evening, according to a team source. However, the team will remain in Oklahoma City as part of contact tracing/quarantining and to await test results. The contact tracing stems from their Saturday night game against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas, who played Saturday, has entered the league’s health and safety protocols. He’ll miss Monday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
Memphis faced the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday before the squads’ Friday game was postponed due to Minnesota conducting contact tracing. Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns announced Friday that he tested positive to COVID-19.
Valanciunas went head-to-head with Towns during that game. On Saturday, he squared off against Dwight Howard because Joel Embiid missed the road trip with right knee pain.
According to the NBA protocol, a player must isolate at least 10 days after the first positive test or onset of symptoms or test negative twice at least 24 hours apart via PCR testing. Players who are deemed out due to contact tracing are normally expected to be sidelined for up to seven days.
Sunday’s game against the Thunder was called 1 hour, 30 minutes before its scheduled start. At the time, Sixers reserve Shake Milton was on the court warming up before suddenly exiting. Rookies Isaiah Joe and Tyrese Maxey had just finished their pregame routines.
This marks the second time the Sixers have had to deal with contact tracing.
On Jan. 8, Seth Curry was informed early during a 122-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets that he had tested positive for COVID-19. That forced the team to quarantine and contact trace in a New York hotel the night after the game and the next day.
As a result, Curry, Milton, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Vincent Poirier were all sidelined as part of the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Curry and Poirier are still in the protocols, while Harris, Milton, and Thybulle returned to action Thursday night against the Miami Heat.
The Sixers dressed eight players and played with seven due to contact tracing and injuries in their Jan. 9 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Mike Scott was out with a left knee bruise, but dressed so the team would have the eight players needed to play the game.
Two days later, the Sixers played with nine players in a road loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Then on Tuesday, they played with 10 players in a victory over a Miami Heat squad playing with eight players due to contact tracing and injuries.