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BASKETBALL

NBA, union stiffen virus protocols

BASKETBALL

NBA, union stiffen virus protocols

With five games called off this week already and more teams dealing with virus-related issues, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association enacted additional rules Tuesday in the hope of keeping the season going safely.

For "at least the next two weeks," the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road -- with exceptions primarily for practices and games.

Utah's game in Washington scheduled for tonight was postponed because contact-tracing issues among the Wizards meant they wouldn't have eight available players for that matchup. Orlando's game in Boston tonight is also off, the third postponement since Sunday involving the Celtics.

Boston's most recent list showed eight players as unavailable because they are adhering to the NBA's health and safety protocols, which means they either tested positive or contact-tracing data showed they may have been exposed to someone who is positive.

Miami played in Philadelphia on Tuesday night with the NBA-minimum eight players, missing eight for covid-related reasons and another with injury.

Additional actions taken Tuesday include a new rule prohibiting any pregame meetings in locker rooms from lasting more than 10 minutes; when those meetings take place everyone must wear a mask.

Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a "cool down chair" without a mask -- but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.

There were at least 36 players in the league dealing with virus-related issues or protocols when Tuesday began, based on information released by teams.

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