The Charlotte Hornets have had four players — LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee and Terry Rozier — enter into the NBA’s health and safety protocols, it was announced Saturday.
The Hornets have sent players and staff home from their practice facility as there’s concern of possible positive COVID-19 tests, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
If a player has a confirmed positive test for COVID-19, the NBA mandates a minimum of 10 days of isolation away from his team without any physical activity. After that period, a player must undergo a cardiac screening and reconditioning in order to be cleared to return to the court. A player who tests positive also could clear the protocols by returning two negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests within a 24-hour period.
Barring more positive tests, the Hornets would meet the NBA’s minimum required eight players to play their next scheduled game on Sunday night at Atlanta. The team is scheduled to depart for Atlanta on Saturday and also recalled James Bouknight, Vernon Carey Jr. and Kai Jones from the Greensboro Swarm of the G-League.
The Hornets, who last played Wednesday at Milwaukee, also have home games this upcoming week against the Philadelphia 76ers (Monday and Wednesday) and the Sacramento Kings (Friday).
Charlotte (13-11) is currently seventh in the Eastern Conference standings.
The 20-year-old Ball, who was the league’s Rookie of the Year last season, leads the Hornets in scoring (20.0 points per game), rebounds (7.7 per game), assists (8.2 per game) and steals (1.9 per game).
Rozier is averaging 17.7 points per game, while Plumlee leads the team in blocks (1.0 per game) and is averaging 7.3 rebounds.
McDaniels is averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.0 minutes per game.
The NBA has said about 97% of players are vaccinated. It is unclear how many players have received booster shots. The NBA told teams on Friday that those who have not received booster shots by Dec. 17 will be subject to stricter rules; for players, that will mean gameday testing and for staffers, it would mean they cannot continue interacting with players or have the level of access that would allow them to be around the court and travel with the team.
There have now been more than 20 players placed in the league’s health and safety protocols since the season started. In most cases, that has meant a positive test was detected and players have been sidelined for at least 10 days — some significantly longer. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was out for about three weeks.
There is a notable exception: The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, who entered the protocols after a combination of results on tests, then was cleared after returning multiple negative PCR tests in a 24-hour window.
The league postponed about 30 games last season, mostly for virus-related reasons, but none were ultimately canceled. The NBA has not had to postpone a game for the virus yet this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.