It might be working.
The NBA's ambitious plan to restart its 2019-20 season in a so-called "bubble" on the Disney World campus showed a positive sign Monday. The league and National Basketball Players Association jointly announced that of 322 players tested for COVID-19 since teams began arriving in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and entered quarantine with daily testing, only two positive cases have returned.
NBA and NBPA Announce COVID-19 Test Results pic.twitter.com/ZMF3MAcMF9— NBPA (@TheNBPA) July 13, 2020
The statement said those two players never cleared quarantine and are either isolating at home after leaving the campus or in isolation housing.
This was always the most critical step to getting the restart off the ground — moving teams from their in-market quarantine periods to inside the bubble. That only two positive cases have thus far emerged has to be viewed as an encouraging sign, especially given that players are tested daily once inside the bubble.
The NBA and NBPA also announced that 19 players have tested positive since July 1, when testing began in each team's respective home markets as players gathered for their initial quarantine period.
Those players have remained in their home markets, and will stay there until they are cleared by CDC guidelines and NBA rules for exiting home isolation and entering the bubble. James Harden is one high-profile name that has yet to join the Rockets on the NBA campus, although the team has not specified why, which is each team's right.
Monday's news isn't to suggest the 22-team restart plan is in the clear. Hurdles can arise at any time (two players have already been publicly identified for breaking quarantine), particularly given that workers on the Disney campus aren't subjected to the same daily testing regimens that all NBA personnel are. The NBA and NBPA have instituted rules to limit contact for these workers and league personnel.
The Bulls, like the other seven teams not invited to the restart, are watching what is transpiring at Disney World closely. If the restart succeeds, it increases the chances for a second bubble for the teams left behind, which would be for development purposes and likely take place in Chicago.
On Monday, Richaun Holmes announced via Twitter that he accidentally broke quarantine in the NBA's Walt Disney World bubble, and is currently isolated in accordance with the league's Health and Safety Protocols.
Holmes cited picking up a food delivery as the reason for his accidentally stepping outside of quarantine lines, and apologized to his teammates in the statement. His mother Lydecia had some fun with her son on social media in the wake of the news:
He'll now have to complete a designated ten-day quarantine period — which he said there are eight days remaining in — accompanied by testing and medical evaluation before returning to team activities. The NBA's Health and Safety Protocols say that such a quarantine period would take place "in a hotel room or other campus property," and can be extended to 14 days if so advised by a consulting infectious disease physician.
Because games haven't started yet, Holmes won't incur any financial penalty for games missed due to his breaking quarantine. But ESPN's Bobby Marks has the details on what those ramifications would have looked like for Holmes if he had made the mistake during the season restart.
There will be a financial penalty if a player breaks quarantine once the seeding games start on July 30. Each game missed will project to roughly 1% of salary. The Richaun Holmes situation would have cost him close to $50K for every game missed.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) July 13, 2020
ESPN also reported Monday that Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo accidentally broke quarantine, and has eight days remaining in his designated isolation period.
Holmes is a Lockport, Ill. native, and played one season at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills before finishing his college career with three years at Bowling Green State. He was selected in the second round (No. 37 overall) of the 2015 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.
With averages of 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds (65.4% FG) in 28.8 minutes per game, Holmes is enjoying the best season of his career with the Kings, who enter the bubble 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West.