ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the Jokic news, and The Denver Post confirmed the initial report. The Nuggets cited medical privacy in declining comment, according to The Denver Post’s Mike Singer.
NBA teams have begun testing players in their effort to begin hosting training camps before traveling to Orlando early next month for the league’s scheduled restart at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Jokic reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in his native Serbia last week, delaying his return to Denver. According to Wojnarowski, he has been asymptomatic and expects to report to the Nuggets within a week.
Jokic’s positive test is the first publicized since the NBA’s initial wave of testing in March included All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Kevin Durant. Gobert’s positive test on March 11 forced the NBA to suspend its season.
Jokic has been a fringe MVP candidate for the past two seasons, and his Nuggets are currently seeded third in the Western Conference. His availability is paramount to Denver’s championship chances. The news comes after reports the formerly doughy two-time All-Star has lost considerable weight during the hiatus. Jokic was averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game when the NBA halted its season.
Jokic was seen sitting courtside next to the world’s top tennis player, Novak Djokovic, at an exhibition game in Belgrade last week. Neither were wearing masks in photos taken at the event. A participant in the game who was reportedly in close contact with Jokic tested positive for the virus shortly afterward. Djokovic and his wife announced they tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. The tennis star was heavily criticized over the past week as his charitable tennis tournament operated without required masks or social distancing measures. Djokovic’s Adria Tour canceled its final event after three players also tested positive.
Nuggets Nikola Jokic tested positive for #coronavirus last week in Serbia and he has yet to get back to Denver, per @wojespn.— Davide Chinellato (@dchinellato) June 23, 2020
Jokic met with #tennis super star Novak Djokovic, who announced today he and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19 #NBA pic.twitter.com/8gRT7fTVcW
While Jokic is the first player named since the NBA and its players’ association agreed to resume the 2019-20 season, he is far from the lone positive test. Per Wojnarowski, four unnamed players tested positive for COVID-19 on a Western Conference playoff team. The Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin reported that two Phoenix Suns tested positive for coronavirus in advance of the team’s scheduled workouts on Tuesday.
The deadline for players on the 22 teams invited to Orlando to opt out of the remainder of the 2019-20 season is Wednesday. Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Portland Trail Blazers wing Trevor Ariza have informed their teams they will not be playing if the season resumes as scheduled on July 30.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving recently called on players to voice their concerns about returning to play, and roughly one-fifth of the league joined a conference call to voice trepidations ranging from coronavirus fears to the extended time away from their families, all amid a commitment to the ongoing social justice movement. Los Angeles Lakers teammates Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley are among those who have joined Irving in questioning the NBA’s plan to reopen during a pandemic and worldwide protests.
Memphis Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow voiced his criticism publicly on Friday, suggesting the NBA is prioritizing revenue over safety and expressed uncertainty about whether “they really care if we get” the coronavirus. “This s--- ain’t even about basketball or our safety anymore,” Winslow posted to Instagram.
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