When can Tatum return for Celtics? Stevens shares update


Reinforcements are arriving for the Boston Celtics, but Jayson Tatum still isn't among them.

Celtics big man Robert Williams returned to practice Tuesday and will travel with the team to Philadelphia for Wednesday's game against the 76ers, head coach Brad Stevens confirmed.

Williams has missed Boston's last three games after testing positive for COVID-19 in early January but said Tuesday he feels "great" after initially exhibiting some flu-like symptoms.

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"Really just happy to be back out here with my guys," Williams told reporters after the team's practice. "The test, it had me down a little bit, flu symptoms. But I’m here so I can’t complain, man. I’m happy.” 

Tatum, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 8, is still in quarantine and won't travel to Philly along with Carsen Edwards, who remains out due to health and safety protocols.

Tatum's status for Friday's game against the Sixers is to be determined, per Stevens. So, what will determine whether Tatum returns Friday?

Per the NBA's COVID-19 protocols, all players who test positive for the virus must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days. They must then return two negative tests at least 24 hours apart before being cleared to return.


Here's the other piece: If a player doesn't have symptoms at the 10-day mark, he can begin a two-day period of monitored individual workouts. So, the earliest any player can return from a positive COVID-19 test is 12 days following the test.

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If Tatum's last positive test was Jan. 8, he'd hit that 12-day mark on Wednesday after two days of individual workouts this week. If he returned any positive tests after Jan. 8, however, then that timeline would be pushed back.

Considering he's out Wednesday and TBD for Friday, that might be the case. It's also possible that he's technically out of quarantine Wednesday but won't be able to return a negative test in time for when the Celtics depart for Philly.

If all goes well over the next two days, though, there's a good chance Tatum takes the floor Friday night against the Sixers. The C's certainly could use their leading scorer after mustering just 75 points in a loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday.