LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As concern was growing that the league’s playoffs could be compromised with the sidelining of players because of largely unavoidable coronavirus testing glitches, the NBA has tightened its protocol on retesting and allowing players a return to the court within a 24-hour window, according to league memo obtained by ESPN.
Now, a player returning an inconclusive result — which occurs in approximately five of every 1,000 tests — can still become eligible to play in a game that is within 24 hours — instead of needing to wait 48 hours, the memo said.
The player must test negative in an immediate retest upon receiving the inconclusive result, and then return another negative test within 60 minutes of the scheduled tipoff of his team’s next game, the memo said.
Teams fear playoff scenarios where a key player could be lost — despite the fact that he hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus.
Before this protocol change, there had been a two-day period of time that required two negative tests in successive 24-hour periods.
The Sacramento Kings had a player with an inconclusive test last week who went through this process.
The NBA is testing players and staff every day in its 22-team restart at Disney’s Wide World of Sports and has yet to have a positive test for the coronavirus among the players in the bubble.