Virus outbreak on Spurs forces NBA to postpone 5 games

The San Antonio Spurs are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak among four players, the NBA said Tuesday, meaning the Spurs will not play until the middle of next week at the earliest.

The NBA postponed five more games: the next three for the Spurs — at Cleveland on Wednesday, at New York on Saturday and at Indiana on Monday — as well as the next two for the Charlotte Hornets while contact tracing is completed.

The Hornets were scheduled to play host to Chicago on Wednesday and Denver on Friday. Their games have been halted because they were the last team to play the Spurs, losing to them on Sunday. The league is reviewing data to see if any Hornets may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, a process that takes time.

Charlotte’s next possible game is now Saturday at home against Golden State, in what would be Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s annual return to North Carolina, where he grew up. San Antonio’s next possible game is Feb. 24 at Oklahoma City, meaning the Spurs will have more than a week between contests — joining Washington and Memphis as teams to endure such a situation this season.

The postponements announced Tuesday push the total of games that have been moved back this season because of positive tests or contact tracing issues to 29, including the Spurs’ game at Detroit that was to have been played Tuesday night. The NBA called that game off on Monday.

The NBA does not reveal which players tested positive, but its announcement of the latest postponements said the Spurs had positive tests among players — and did not mention coaches. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced last month, on his 72nd birthday, that he has received the vaccine that protects against the effects of COVID-19.

The Spurs were without guard Quinndary Weatherspoon for their game Sunday against Charlotte because of the league’s COVID-19 protocols; Weatherspoon had played 10 minutes on Friday in Atlanta, then was flagged by the protocols over the weekend.

Being ruled out because of the protocols can suggest any number of things, including a positive test, a suspected positive test or contact-tracing data showing that a player may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19.

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