LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Zion Williamson will be out of quarantine by the time New Orleans plays in the first official game of the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.
Whether the Pelicans will play him that night or not remains anyone’s guess.
The NBA said Saturday that Williamson will have to serve a four-day quarantine for leaving the league’s Disney bubble on July 16 to tend to an urgent family matter. He returned to Disney on Friday night and immediately went into quarantine.
That means he will likely be released from quarantine sometime Tuesday, two days before the Pelicans play the first “seeding game” against the Utah Jazz.
A person familiar with the situation said that if all goes well with Williamson’s quarantine, he can return to team activities during a practice scheduled for Tuesday night. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because such plans have not been completed and cannot be until Williamson passes more tests now that he has returned to Disney.
“The most important thing is we hope everything’s OK with him,” Pelicans forward Derrick Favors said Saturday, shortly after the NBA revealed the four-day quarantine determination. “He went away for personal reasons. So, it’s good to see. Whatever it was, hope everything went fine and OK and he’s back with us. And I know everybody’s excited to have him back. I know he’s excited to be back.”
Williamson was tested daily during his absence and continually came back negative for COVID-19, which helped his hopes for a shorter quarantine upon his return to Disney. The league has said quarantine for those who leave the bubble can last as much as 10 days or more if those individuals are not tested daily while they are away.
The No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games this season for the Pelicans, who are one of six teams in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
NBA coaches started wearing a large pin during games this weekend, the message reading “Coaches for Racial Justice.”
It’s not uncommon for NBA coaches to wear pins or ribbons to support various causes. This one is different, being roughly the size of a business card and the words written in large, red type — the thinking being that coaches want the words noticed.
“We’re coaches and we’re teachers or maybe even educators,” Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford, himself a former special education teacher when he was a high school coach, said Saturday. “But the key is to work with people who understand how we can get things changed and that’s law, that’s policies, procedure.”
NBA coaches, with a committee led by Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce, have been working with noted lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative on how best to use their platform and promote change during the NBA restart. Players have been vocal with their wishes, the NBA had “Black Lives Matter” painted on the game courts and coaches wanted to be involved as much as possible as well.
“I don’t think anybody’s looking to do photo ops,” Clifford said. “I think what we’re trying to do are things that can be positive and sustainable.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he's pleased to be part of a mission to send a message.
“And just like you’ve heard the players say, we still want to see justice for Breonna Taylor," Spoelstra said.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant to search her home was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found.
A person with knowledge of the matter said Saturday the NBA is investigating how long Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams should be in quarantine after he left the bubble for personal reasons. The league's probe revolves around whether Williams was in a club during his trip to Atlanta for a family member's funeral, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The NBA has a process for determining quarantine length for those who leave the bubble, depending on what people did after they left and if they continued getting daily coronavirus tests. The quarantine period can exceed 10 days if NBA rules are not followed.
The primary issue in Williams' case is a since-deleted photo of Williams with recording artist Jack Harlow, the person told AP. Williams is wearing an NBA-issued mask in the photo, the sort that is believed to have only been available inside the Disney bubble — and would debunk any argument that the photo had been taken previously.
“He’s back here. I can tell you that much," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “And, obviously, those got out and that’s something we didn’t enjoy seeing -- or like."
The Clippers open seeding-game play July 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
All-Star forward Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers left his team's scrimmage against Orlando in the first half after being poked in the right eye. He will be evaluated again Sunday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
And the Oklahoma City Thunder said that forward Abdel Nader got a concussion during their scrimmage against Boston on Friday. Nader has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol.
Many NBA players are big WNBA fans — Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Rudy Gobert, Bradley Beal, John Wall and many others have been courtside for games in recent years.
No NBA players are going to WNBA games this season, for the obvious reason that both leagues are in their own bubbles and playing games without fans. But the NBA wanted to let their WNBA colleagues know they're in mind.
With the WNBA season tipping off Saturday in Bradenton, Florida, about 100 miles away from Disney, NBA players such as All-Stars LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat have been seen in recent days wearing bright orange hooded sweatshirts with the WNBA logo on the front.
James wore his to work Saturday; the hoodie was part of his attire on the way to the Los Angeles Lakers' scrimmage against the Orlando Magic.
“They don’t get the respect they deserve. ... If you know the game of basketball, they play the right way,” Lakers guard Dion Waiters said Saturday as he wore his orange hoodie.
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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