What We Know About the Toronto Raptors COVID-19 Issues

The Toronto Raptors are amid some serious COVID-19 problems and here's everything we know about the past week, Pascal Siakam, and Nick Nurse's issues
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For the first time this season, the Toronto Raptors have had a game postponed due to the NBA's COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols. According to the league, the Raptors did not have eight active players available to participate in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bulls. Frankly, it's a scary and concerning situation. 

Right now, there's a lot unknown and most of it will never be revealed in order to ensure the privacy of those involved. But here is what we do know:

Wednesday: Pascal Siakam Struggles vs. Heat

Last Wednesday the Raptors played the second game of a back-to-back against the Miami Heat in Miami. Toronto lost 116-108 and Pascal Siakam did not play a single minute in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with a season's worst five points in just 24 minutes played, the fewest he's played in a game this year.

"It’s tough on a back-to-back," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam's performance. "I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often."

Thursday: Raptors Off Day

The Raptors had nothing scheduled on Thursday, according to Raptors general manager Bobby Webster.

Webster spoke to the media on Friday and said that the off day made things easier from a contact tracing perspective.

"Yesterday being an off day was actually beneficial because there was nothing scheduled," Webster said Friday. "So once this became an issue, there wasn't a ton of conversations about yesterday. It was more about the days prior. That's when you go back and think about actions and where people were."

Friday: Raptors Announce Nick Nurse, Five Coaches, & Siakam Out

On Friday, the Raptors returned to Tampa to play the Houston Rockets. Prior to the game, the team announced that Nick Nurse, five assistant coaches, and Siakam were unavailable due to the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols.

While Webster didn't want to reveal too much information, he did say it wasn't clear at the time if Siakam's issues were related to those of the coaching staff. He added that everyone available to play had undergone testing and received negative test results.

"I think once the negative tests came back this afternoon, I think that gave the NBA the comfort that at least for today we're clear," Webster said. 

Sportsnet's Michael Grange later reported that one member of the coaching staff had tested positive for COVID-19 while Siakam was awaiting further test results after an inconclusive test. 

Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo took over head coaching duties and Toronto won 122-111.

Saturday: Siakam Reportedly Out Through All-Star Break

On Saturday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Siakam would be out through the NBA All-Star break due to league Health and Safety protocols. The team later confirmed that Siakam would miss Sunday's game against the Chicago Bulls.

The Raptors did not hold practice on Saturday, according to Raptors PR.

It was announced by the team that Scariolo would once again be Toronto's head coach on Sunday.

Sunday: Bulls Game Postponed

On Sunday morning the NBA announced that Toronto's game against the Chicago Bulls would be postponed for Health and Safety reasons.

"Because of positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors, the team will not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with the scheduled game against the Bulls," according to the NBA's press release.

The Raptors have 17 players on their roster, 15 if you exclude Donta Hall and Jalen Harris who are playing in the G-League with the Raptors 905. With Siakam already ruled out, Toronto's roster sat at 14 prior to the announcement. Therefore, at least seven more Raptors players were not eligible to play because of league protocols.

It's worth noting here that on Friday, Webster was asked how six coaches could be unavailable to coach but the entire roster with the exception of Siakam was available to play.

"You can probably imagine it's just the natural course of how groups work," he said. "So, if your department or whatever group at your work, if someone had an exposure or somebody within that group you go back and say who did you hang out with and who were you around the most? Who do you sit with on the plane? Who do you sit with on the bus? And so I think it kind of defaulted into that is groups by department."

Going Forward

The Raptors are scheduled to play the Detroit Pistons in Tampa on Tuesday and the Boston Celtics in Boston on Thursday. It's unclear if those games will be played, but they certainly would seem in jeopardy.

It's also unknown how long Nurse and the majority of the coaching staff will be away, though sources have told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star that it could be a "couple of weeks."

Toronto will start the second half of its season on March 11 against the Atlanta Hawks.

Further Reading:

No Nick Nurse, no problem for the Raptors as Sergio Scariolo clinches 1st NBA win

Kyle Lowry is carrying over a tradition from Michael Jordan & Kobe Bryant

Fred VanVleet is one of the league's best pound for pound shot blockers and he hates it