One starter cleared to return to Warriors, two others remain in protocols

Updated Covid-19 health and safety protocols issued by the NBA on Monday have cleared the way for forward Andrew Wiggins to return to the Golden State Warriors.

Wiggins, who entered protocols on Dec. 19, rejoined the Warriors at practice ahead of their Tuesday matchup with the Denver Nuggets at the Chase Center following the NBA’s decision to release guidance that allows vaccinated players and coaches to be released from quarantine after six days.

“He’s probable for (Tuesday),” head coach Steve Kerr said of Wiggins. “He took part in practice today, he’s getting an extra workout now and he’ll come in tomorrow and go through the pregame routine and I would expect him to play. But we obviously have to follow all of the protocols and he’s got to feel well enough to play.”

In a memo distributed to teams Monday, the NBA said vaccinated players who are asymptomatic can exit quarantine after six days if they produce Covid-19 testing data that shows they are no longer infectious. Wiggins said Monday he dealt with “A little sore throat, maybe a light headache,” for about a day, but noted he avoided any severe symptoms.

“I felt good, but a game is way more intense,” Wiggins said following practice. “The physicality is way more intense than what I did today, but I got good work in.”

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the earliest Wiggins could have rejoined the Warriors was Wednesday, which would have forced him to miss a fourth consecutive game.

While Wiggins is slated to return to the starting lineup on Tuesday, guard Jordan Poole remained in protocols on Monday’s injury report. Poole entered health and safety protocols on Dec. 17, two days before Wiggins, but was required to quarantine in Boston. According to a report from The Athletic, Poole flew back across the country on Monday, but it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to rejoin the Warriors.

“Every player is going to be different based on his own circumstances so that will be determined by Rick (Celebrini) and the training staff and as soon as we’ll have any news to report, we’ll report it,” Kerr said. “But at this point, I couldn’t predict when he’ll play.”

Aside from missing Poole, the Warriors are also without forward Draymond Green, who entered protocols on Sunday, and guards Damion Lee (Dec. 22) and Moses Moody (Dec. 24).

Green’s absence is the most significant to date for Golden State and Kerr did not reveal who will replace him in Tuesday’s starting lineup.

“(Green has) very mild symptoms, he’s in good spirits, he’s disappointed obviously with the way things are going and the way he’s playing, but big picture, this is a bump in the road,” Kerr said.

With a handful of key players in protocols, the Warriors have had several others including Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II take on larger roles and Porter said Monday Golden State will need even more help replacing Green.

“He’s our anchor defensively,” Porter said. “We know how much he brings every night for us and offensively, how he gets us in sets and gets the ball moving. He’s the one that’s dishing out to everybody. We’re definitely going to miss him on both sides of the ball. His leadership, his presence, but when he went down, we knew we had to find another way.”

According to the memo issued to NBA teams on Monday, a positive Covid-19 test occurs on what is considered “Day Zero,” so players would return on the seventh day if they meet the new standard. If Lee and Moody are both vaccinated, asymptomatic and no longer infectious, Lee could rejoin the Warriors as soon as Wednesday while Moody would be available to return to the team as early as Friday.

Under the previous protocols, Green would have missed the team’s next five games, but could now miss just three if he’s cleared for action by January 3.

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