Sports / Utah Jazz / 
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the sideline to talk with head coach Quin Snyder during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

Jazz game against Washington postponed as league heightens COVID-19 restrictions

By Ryan Miller, | Updated - Jan. 12, 2021 at 10:21 p.m. | Posted - Jan. 12, 2021 at 5:43 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz's seven-game road trip will be ending a game early.

On Tuesday, the NBA announced Utah's game against Washington on Wednesday has been postponed due to the league's health and safety protocols. Because of COVID-19 contact tracing, the Wizards will not have the necessary eight available players needed to play the game.

The postponed game is something the Jazz were beginning to prepare for after the Wizards canceled their practice Wednesday morning after two players entered the league's health and safety protocol.

"It's kind of frustrating or whatever, but it is what it is," Utah forward Joe Ingles said, speaking generally about the effects the virus is having on the season. "It's the world we live in right now. A lot of unknowns."

One of which is when Wednesday's game will be made up. The league said it had planned for potential postponements and that was one of the reasons it chose to only release only half of the schedule to start the season. And the postponements are starting to pile up. The Jazz-Wizards contest is the fifth game this week that will not be played.

To hopefully slow down the spread of the virus — or at least to limit the need for contact tracing — the league and the players association agreed on new enhanced COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday.

On road trips, players and staff are no longer allowed to leave hotels for non-team activities and can no longer have guests. Previously, longtime friends and family members were allowed to visit hotel rooms.

But the restrictions go further than that.

For at least the next two weeks, players and team staff are required to remain at their homes (when not traveling with the team) at all times except to attend team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or perform essential activities, or for emergencies. Interaction with non-team personnel is limited to household members, family and any personal staff working regularly in the home.

The NBA is effectively going on lockdown. If someone is not living with you or on your team, chances are players and team staff can't socialize with them.

"It's being unselfish. I don't have a family that lives with me, but other teammates do, so just continuing to be unselfish and not just being safe for myself but for my teammates, our coaches, our trainers," Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. "That's really all you can do. ... It's a weird time but we also have a job to do as well. And we're doing it."

But parts of that job are changing with the new protocols, too.

Also for the next two weeks, any pregame meeting in the locker room is limited to no more than 10 minutes and everyone must wear a mask. On game day, players can't arrive at the arena more than three hours before the game and must limit pregame interactions with each other to elbow or fist bumps. It is now required to wear a mask at all times when not in the game or in a designated "cool down" area.

"There's gonna be a lot of stuff this year that we're just doing on the fly, or we're getting a text an hour before something, or we might have to meet somewhere else before we come to another city because of the rules in the other city," Ingles said. "So we just got to be pretty open and flexible with what's going. … We'll take it as it comes because we really can't do anything else, to be honest."

Ryan Miller


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