Suns, Trail Blazers coaches enter protocol; more NHL games postponed

As the omicron variant continues to spread throughout the country, more and more players, coaches and athletes are testing positive for COVID-19 and entering the health and safety protocols of their respective leagues.

Aside from the NFL, the two other major leagues currently in season, the NBA and the NHL, are also dealing with their own spikes in cases.

So far, NBA postponements have slowed after a handful of them in the last couple of weeks. To mitigate the growing number of players landing on COVID-19 isolation lists, however, teams are dipping into their minor league affiliates and free agency to add bodies to their rosters.

NHL postponements continue to grow and the league has brought back taxi squads in a bid to keep games going.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum wipes off his forehead during a timeout in the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jon Durr)

Here’s a look at the latest COVID-19 updates facing the NBA and NHL.

For their game Monday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Boston Celtics will be without several key players because of health and safety protocols. None is more significant than star forward Jayson Tatum, who was added to the team’s COVID-19 list Monday morning.

Tatum was declared out for Monday’s game and joins Dennis Schröder, Bruno Fernando, Enes Freedom, Justin Jackson, C.J. Miles, Aaron Nesmith, Josh Richardson and Grant Williams as Boston players in the protocols. All of those players are out for Monday’s game against Minnesota, with the exception of Williams, who is questionable.

The game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET in Minnesota.

Coaches of a couple NBA teams added to expanding list

The Phoenix Suns will be without coach Monty Williams for their game Monday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, according to multiple reports. According to ESPN, assistant coach Kevin Young is the likely choice to replace Williams Monday night.

Williams joins Suns forward Jae Crowder and reserve guard Elfrid Payton on the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Story continues

Meanwhile, multiple reports indicated that Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups also entered the league’s health and safety protocols Monday. According to ESPN, assistant coach Scott Brooks, a former head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards, will serve as the interim in Billups’ absence.

The Trail Blazers just had their most recently scheduled game, which had been set to take place Thursday against the Nets, postponed because of COVID-19 issues facing Brooklyn. The NBA, in fact, has had to reschedule a handful of games over the past couple of weeks because of various outbreaks.

Portland is scheduled to play the Dallas Mavericks Monday at 10 p.m. ET.

Williams and Billups make it four NBA coaches currently on the league’s health and safety protocols. Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers and Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls are also on the list.

More NHL postponements

The NHL postponed three more games: Chicago-Winnipeg on Wednesday and a home-and-home set between Colorado and Dallas on Wednesday and Friday.

The Blackhawks announced that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t practice on Monday because he has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols. Chicago did get some good news as defenseman Calvin de Haan was removed from the list.

Both of Chicago’s first two games after the extended Christmas break have been postponed. There have been a total of 70 postponements this season, and the league has pulled out of the Olympics to help schedule them.

NHL OUT OF OLYMPICS: Who is hurt most by decision to withdraw from Beijing?

Buckeyes not all the way back yet

The Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team canceled its Tuesday tipoff against New Orleans at Value City Arena due to the long layoff they have experienced since an outbreak of the virus forced the program to shut down nearly two weeks ago.

The program had shut down team activities because of COVID-19 spread and returned to Columbus for a brief practice on Sunday. The Buckeyes had already missed games against Kentucky and Tennessee-Martin because of the virus, but Tuesday’s cancellation has more to do with player conditioning after the long layoff.

“Our guys are progressing through the COVID return-to-play protocols well, but we just don’t have the numbers or readiness to play a game yet,” coach Chris Holtmann said in a statement. “Player safety as it relates to COVID and as they return to play after a significant time off will always be a top priority.”

— Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19 updates: Jayson Tatum, two NBA coaches land on list


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