The NBA is preparing to enter its new 2021 season on December 22, and the league is trying to learn from the experiences of the NFL and MLB on how to deal with playing home games in empty arenas.  It’s also trying to figure out how to handle positive COVID-19 tests from players, coaches and training staff.  Planning how to reschedule postponed games and all the little details that have changed since last season are proving to be a challenge, but progress is being made.

Expanded Rosters Come To The NBA

The NBA played their Finals last year in a bubble at Disney World, but that is impossible with the entire league playing games every night. The specter of the coronavirus is looming large over everyone who is out there exposing themselves to it.

Someone had the idea to expand the active rosters for each NBA team from 13 to 15 players, which is mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It will be nice to have those two extra guys there if things start to go wrong.  That would give the team’s 17 players, counting 15 roster players and 2 two-way players.

Davis, James Sign Huge Deals

As expected, Anthony Davis likes it in LA. Especially after the Lakers offered him a contract for five years, worth up to $190 million.  The day before, LeBron James agreed to a two-year deal that will net him $85 million. Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka was happy to announce that both of his All-Star stars will be coming back.

Along with some of the other acquisitions made by Pelinka and company, the Lakers’ next season, in a couple of weeks, are going to be more unbeatable than ever.  Pelinka expects King James to be a big part of that success once again and asserts that he is a ”transcendent basketball player and human being,” adding, “LeBron put his trust in the Lakers in 2018, and now this contract extension paves the way for LeBron to further solidify his legacy as an all-time Lakers great. We could not be more honored by this commitment.”

One of the trading pieces that went to the New Orleans Pelicans in the Davis deal was young Brandon Ingram.  That actually has worked out pretty well for Ingram, who just signed a five-year, $158 million contract with the Pelicans.

NBA COVID-19 Testing Causes Concern

The NBA began a program of testing for 2021 for the coronavirus before the season gets started on December 22.  During the first week of testing, 546 players were tested and 48 came back positive for the COVID-19. That’s getting pretty close to 10% of the players in the NBA.

No names of the players that tested positive were disclosed but the league did say, ‘‘Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test during this initial phase of testing in their team’s market is isolated until they are cleared for leaving isolation under the rules established by the NBA and Players Association in accordance with CDC guidelines.’’

The league is reported to not be overly concerned with these numbers, as the national average is around 10% and it wasn’t expecting any results much different since the players and coaches have been traveling all around the country lately.

The NBA is also reported to have implemented new COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season. Players who test positive, but who are not showing any symptoms, will be required to sit out for 10 days from when they first test positive.  Then they will have to pass a series of health screenings before they can get back with the team and play some basketball.

Players who test positive and are exhibiting symptoms will also be held out for ten days beginning from when they are no longer showing symptoms.  Then, they will have to pass the screening tests as well.