Pistons test 17 members of traveling party for coronavirus

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Detroit — After the NBA’s suspension of its season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Pistons have moved to test members of their traveling party who went to road games in New York and Philadelphia last week.

The Pistons had one player, Christian Wood, with a preliminary positive test for COVID-19, and a league source tells The Detroit News that 17 of the 50-plus members of the group that traveled have been tested. The results of the remaining 16 tests have not been completed, though there were no additional positive tests as of Wednesday night.

The NBA has been criticized for having more tests available in a short time span and using tests before the general public. In the Pistons’ case, the source indicated that the tests were done through a private lab and only for members of the traveling party who had direct contact with Gobert — and also either presented with symptoms of the illness or had underlying respiratory issues or health conditions.

Those specifications are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for testing. There are no plans to test the rest of the Pistons’ traveling party unless they show symptoms or are advised by the team’s medical staff.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday that eight full NBA teams have been tested and other players from other teams have shown symptoms. Several of those teams have announced the results of their testing, including the Brooklyn Nets, who announced that four players had positive tests.

Pistons' Christian Wood became the third NBA player to test positive for coronavirus.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors also announced that their team all had tested negative. The Los Angeles Lakers, who last played the Nets on March 10, were planning to do tests as well.

The Thunder were set to play the Utah Jazz last Wednesday before Rudy Gobert’s test results returned. But Silver indicated that those tests were at the behest of state officials, not the NBA.

“The Utah Jazz did not ask to be tested. The Oklahoma public health official there on the spot not only required that they be tested, but they weren’t allowed to leave their locker room for at least four hours after the game,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Wednesday.

“They had to stay, masks on, in the locker room and they couldn’t leave until the health authorities had tested them.”

Gobert was the first player to have a preliminary positive test; he and teammate Donovan Mitchell faced the Pistons on March 7 at Little Caesars Arena. When Gobert’s test returned positive, it led to the NBA’s suspension of games last week.

The backlash from NBA teams acquiring tests was amplified by New York mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday, in the aftermath of the Nets’ announcement of the positive tests from their four players.

“We wish them a speedy recovery,” de Blasio posted on Twitter. “But, with all due respect, an entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested.”

Players and other members of the Pistons’ traveling party have been advised to stay in self-isolation until March 25 — 14 days from the last game, which was at Philadelphia, the night the league suspended games.

The Pistons previously had advised their business staff working at the headquarters in midtown Detroit to work from home. That advisory has been extended at least through March 30.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard