Seven members of the Clippers’ support staff returned to Los Angeles midway through the team’s road trip this weekend to begin a seven-day quarantine after one staff member tested positive for the coronavirus infection, a result that initiated the NBA’s contact-tracing protocol, a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly confirmed Sunday.
The group does not include players or coaches, which allowed the Clippers to have enough support to play Sunday evening in Phoenix against the Suns. Coach Tyronn Lue said the Clippers had an "ample amount of staff that we need" to play and that it had not changed the team's preparation.
"We continued to do what we've been doing, guys are prepared," Lue said before tipoff. "Like I said, ready for the game tonight. It's no distraction. With this thing going on all year, you never know what's gonna happen. So, you got to be prepared, next man up and we're ready to play a game tonight."
While the rest of the team traveled to Arizona, the affected group remained in Salt Lake City, where the Clippers lost 106-100 on Friday, before eventually returning in vans to Los Angeles to quarantine.
"The most important thing is everyone's feeling well and is safe," Lue said.
Under the NBA’s contact-tracing protocols, not everyone deemed a close contact of an infected person is required to quarantine. The decision is based on how much time was spent around the person, the setting, whether masks were worn, how far away the contacts were and whether the infected person is symptomatic.
The group of quarantined Clippers staffers had eaten together on Thursday in Utah, the person said.
"I’m not quite sure what really happened because I wasn’t there, or I wouldn’t be able to coach the game tonight," Lue said.
It is the second known instance this season of the Clippers missing personnel for a game because of the league’s health and safety protocols.
In mid-December, the team played a preseason game without reserve guard Reggie Jackson and assistant coach Chauncey Billups out of caution, but they were able to return to the team within two days.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.