It was reported by Mike Singer early Thursday morning that Denver Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone had tested positive for COVID and would be placed in the league’s health and safety protocols. Malone was just the latest among coaches across the league to test positive, and the team would be operating with David Adelman as the acting head coach until Malone is cleared to return to the sidelines.
Shortly after this was reported, it was announced by Adrian Wojnarowski that Jeff Green, Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji had also tested positive for COVID and would be placed in the health and safety protocols. The plan is for Denver to test more players later on today, and they’re at risk of postponing the team’s game against the Golden State Warriors with the risk of being unable to field a team of at least eight players.
Denver's Jeff Green, Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji have entered Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN. More Nuggets to be tested today. Denver may have trouble reaching the required eight active players to meet Golden State tonight, sources said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 30, 2021
Denver is the most recent team around the league to be dealing with a COVID outbreak, and this could be the 11th game to be postponed of the NBA season after several have been moved in recent weeks. Already reeling with injuries, Denver couldn’t afford to lose any more rotation players. Now, they’ve lost another starter for the next few days along with two key bench players in Hyland and Nnaji.
It remains to be seen how many more positive tests Denver will be ending the day with. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, the virus tends to work through the team over the course of a couple of weeks. In a crowded Western Conference, Denver doesn’t have the luxury of dropping games with players being sidelined, so they’ll be hoping they get lucky with who manages to stay healthy as the virus runs its course.
It looks like Denver will have Davon Reed available for a third 10-day contract via hardship exception, but that currently brings Denver’s healthy roster count to just seven players: Nikola Jokić, Will Barton, Facu Campazzo, Davon Reed, JaMychal Green, Bol Bol, and Petr Cornelie.
The following Nuggets players are on the injury report for tonight:
- Jamal Murray - OUT (injury)
- Michael Porter Jr. - OUT (injury)
- P.J. Dozier - OUT (injury)
- Markus Howard - OUT (injury)
- Jeff Green - OUT (health and safety)
- Bones Hyland - OUT (health and safety)
- Zeke Nnaji - OUT (health and safety)
- Aaron Gordon - QUESTIONABLE (injury)
- Monte Morris - QUESTIONABLE (injury)
- Austin Rivers - QUESTIONABLE (injury)
- Vlatko Čančar - QUESTIONABLE (injury)