LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams will miss the first two seeding games of the NBA’s season restart because he has to serve a 10-day quarantine after spending part of a pre-approved absence at an Atlanta strip club.
That leaves the Clippers without their most dependable secondary scorer against the Los Angeles Lakers (Thursday) and New Orleans Pelicans (Saturday) at ESPN’S Wide World of Sports Complex. Williams will also miss the Clippers’ third and final scrimmage against the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
Williams, who is a Sixth Man of the Year candidate after averaging 18.7 points per game this season, could play as early as the team’s third game against the Phoenix Suns on Aug. 4.
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Williams received permission to leave the NBA campus so he could attend the funeral of a close friend on Thursday. Williams paid tribute to his friend in various Twitter and Instagram posts. But rapper Jack Harlow posted a picture of himself and Williams at Magic City in Atlanta before deleting the image, saying it was an old photo of the two. Williams has since contended he simply ordered takeout food there. He has said in interviews and on his Twitter account in recent years how much he likes the food there.
Nonetheless, the NBA did not care whether Williams went to Magic City for food or entertainment purposes. The league became strictly concerned about Williams being in close proximity to other people. Georgia has seen a rising infection in cases and deaths related to COVID-19. Williams returned to the NBA campus on Saturday to begin his quarantine.
“I can’t tell you about his journey because I wasn’t on that journey with him. He’s back here. I can tell you that much,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Saturday. “Obviously those got out and that’s something we obviously didn’t enjoy seeing or like.”
According to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, players could face as few as four additional days in quarantine for pre-approved trips away from the NBA campus as long as they had daily negative tests. That happened to New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, who left last week for an “urgent family medical matter.” The NBA also has conversations with the respective team and player on the person’s itinerary to ensure they are only leaving campus for their specific cause.
Players are also subject to 10 days of quarantine if they leave the campus and do not meet all of the stated criteria or if they do not receive prior approval. That happened to Houston’s Brun Caboclo and Sacramento’s Richaun Holmes after they inadvertently left the NBA campus two weeks ago.
Last week, the NBA reported zero out of 346 players tested positive for COVID-19. The league initially reported 25 out of 351 players and 10 out of 884 staff members were positive for COVID-19 when testing began between June 23-39. Those tests took place in each team’s home market and gave each infected person time to complete quarantine before leaving for Orlando between July 7-9.
A previously infected person could only travel with the team if they cleared quarantine after completing a cardiac screening and yielding at least two consecutive negative tests. The NBA reported that two out of 322 players tested positive for COVID-19 during quarantine when teams arrived in Florida, but those players never broke quarantine. Those players then returned to their home markets.