Joe Ingles first Jazz player to enter COVID protocols this season

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz knew it was coming; the only question was when.

Joe Ingles has entered the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to a report by ESPN.

The Jazz, remarkably, had been the only NBA team to not have a player enter the league's COVID protocols this season. It's not like there's been a small number, either. Before Tuesday, 285 NBA players had entered protocols. It's gotten to such a point that 15 teams — half of the league — have used at least 20 different players.

"I think we're all kind of prepared for, at some point, it to creep in," Mike Conley said last month. "Because it's everywhere and right now it is on all of us to be responsible and try to practice our social distancing."

The Jazz have been extra cautious over the last few weeks since the Omicron variant took hold. Press conferences have returned to being only on Zoom, team broadcasters have stopped traveling, and in-game entertainment has been removed from the Vivint Arena.

Even with those precautions, the inevitable was still expected. So what now?

Ingles will miss at least five days in protocols, and the Jazz are on the brink of needing to sign a player to a 10-day hardship contract.

Ingles will join Udoka Azubuike (ankle) on the inactive list, giving the Jazz just 13 players potentially available for Wednesday's game against Denver. If Hassan Whiteside (concussion) and Eric Paschall (personal reasons) can't suit up, the Jazz will need to add someone to the roster.

Teams that have fewer than 13 players available must sign a hardship player, according to league rules.

Ingles is averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 assists per game in 25.2 minutes on the floor for the Jazz.

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