How hard has COVID hit the Brooklyn Nets? The team has signed four hardship replacement players and still cannot field the required minimum of eight healthy players.
Which is why the NBA officially has postponed the Nets game at Portland on Thursday. It is the third straight Nets game to be postponed and the eighth NBA game this season.
Looming next: The Nets Christmas Day game against the Lakers.
Right now, the Nets have 10 players in health and safety protocols, including Kevin Durant, James Harden, and LaMarcus Aldridge (technically Kyrie Irving, too, but he has yet to play a game for Brooklyn this year). Throw in a couple of injuries, such as Joe Harris‘ ankle surgery, and there isn’t much left on the roster.
While some of those players could be cleared to play by Christmas — multiple reports have said most of the players in health and safety protocols around the league are asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms — it’s unknown if that will happen. The league has already warned teams that game times could be shifted on Christmas to make sure someone is playing in the key ABC game slots, including the Nets at Lakers window.
In an interview on ESPN Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made it clear the NBA would not shut down for a few days over the holidays, as the NHL has done. He also discussed what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has said publicly and others around the league have said privately: It’s becoming time to treat the virus more like an endemic (like the seasonal flu) than a pandemic.
“I think we’re finding ourselves where we sort of knew we were going to get to for the past several months – and that is that this virus will not be eradicated and we’re going to have to learn to live with it,” Silver said. “That’s what we’re experiencing in the league right now.”
Whether those changes would come fast enough to make sure the Nets and their stars could play on Christmas Day against the Lakers and their stars remains to be seen.