The NBA has suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus.
“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement issued shortly after 9:30 p.m. ET. “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The player is the Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That led to Utah’s game at Oklahoma City being postponed just before tipoff.
The NBA is expected to address the next steps with teams when it conducts a call with the Board of Governors at 12:30 p.m. ET, sources tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said during ESPN’s broadcast of Dallas’ 113-97 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets that he was shocked by the news the season was being suspended.
He said his initial reaction was, “This is crazy. This can’t be true.”
He continued: “I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”
Cuban, though, added that he’s not an expert and defers to Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, on these matters.
“I trust Adam [Silver]. You know what? It’s really not about basketball or money,” Cuban said. “Literally if this thing is exploding to the point where all of a sudden players and others have had it, you think about your family. You want to make sure you’re doing this the right way. Now it’s much more personal and you’ve seen what’s happened in other countries, but just the whole idea that it’s come this close and potentially a couple players have it, just, ‘stunning’ isn’t the right word. Just crazy.”
After the game, Cuban said teams have been told they can continue to practice, adding that players have been told they should not have visitors from out of town.
The last game to be completed Wednesday was Dallas’ win over Denver, as the New Orleans Pelicans’ game at the Sacramento Kings was postponed because one of the referees scheduled to work the game had worked Utah’s game Monday night.
A source told ESPN’s Royce Young that Gobert was never at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, but he was in Oklahoma City and was set to play if he had tested negative for the coronavirus.
Players were on the floor for warm-ups when they were told to return to the locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told the game was postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
The Thunder players were cleared to leave the arena, but Utah’s players are still at the arena and sources tell Wojnarowski the team will need to coordinate with Oklahoma and Salt Lake City public health organizations before they can return to Utah,
Players from teams the Jazz have played within the past 10 days are being told to self-quarantine, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Those teams are the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and the Toronto Raptors.
“I’m sure I probably had contact with [Gobert]. But at the same time, like I said, [I’m] just taking precautions,” Detroit’s Langston Galloway said. “We’ve been washing our hands; and when the reports started coming out, everybody’s kinda been on their hand sanitizer, washing their hands — just staying focused on that moment of, hey, [we have] interaction with a lot of different people and knowing that at the end of the day, you might’ve touched the ball, you might’ve interacted with a fan, and just being [cautious] with that going forward.”
Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego, speaking before his team played Wednesday at Miami — where news of the shutdown broke during the fourth quarter — said, “These are scary times.”