Sheppard said the team saw no reason to bring an inactive player into the NBA's bubble.
“Everybody in the NBA is very cognizant of how important it is that we have a very, very small group of people in that bubble,” Sheppard said. “… I don’t think it’s wise to have people around the team that aren’t playing just for the possibility of that extra exposure, whatever it would be over there.”
As for Wall’s progress, the all-star point guard was scrimmaging with the Wizards’ G League affiliate in March before the NBA shut down amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But when gyms shuttered, Wall’s progress naturally stalled.
The 29-year-old is now working with Washington coaches in a routine similar to what he did last offseason.
“He had to go back — I’m not going to say to square one — but he definitely lost all the basketball gains that he had made,” Sheppard said. “It kind of got pushed back because of all of this.”
In the meantime, Sheppard said, Wall is staying in touch with the team over text and participating in team-wide Zoom calls.
He isn’t the only Washington mainstay who won’t be attending the season restart in Florida — forward Davis Bertans elected to sit out the NBA’s great experiment last week. Sheppard said Monday that no other player has informed the team he doesn’t want to play. The Wizards have a few players who still haven’t arrived in Washington, but every player who is in town has been participating in regular individual workouts and coronavirus testing.
The Wizards haven’t solidified their 35-person travel roster for Florida, but Sheppard said the team is hoping to take around 15 or 16 players, eight coaches and seven members of the medical staff, in addition to miscellaneous team officials, including security personnel and an athletic trainer. Sheppard will be representing the team’s front office inside the bubble.
Players and staffers are being tested every other day while in the District and will be tested the two days before they arrive in Florida on July 7. When they arrive near Orlando, they will be tested again and quarantined in their rooms for 36 hours until receiving the results of that test. Team members will receive a second test 24 hours after arrival, and if both tests are negative, they will be able to leave their hotel rooms.
“The entrance into the bubble is going to be a unique experience, being 36 hours straight in the room, and I think we’re getting ready for that. … After that, we’re going to be tested daily,” said Daniel Medina, the team’s chief of athlete care and performance. “The level of risk is going to be diminished, and that is ultimately what’s going to allow people to interact safely and definitely allow to have early detection capability of any symptomatic case.”
Part of Medina’s job in the lead-up to the restart is keeping tabs on Florida’s coronavirus case numbers. The state has emerged as an epicenter for the virus in recent days and reported more than 43,000 new cases from June 22 to Sunday, the highest number in a one-week period since the start of the pandemic.
Asked if he feels a base level of concern with the NBA resuming in a new virus hot spot, Sheppard said he is confident in the league’s ability to keep teams safe.
“We’re following the NBA’s lead,” Sheppard said. “… We look at the numbers just like everyone’s looking at the numbers. This isn’t about basketball, it’s about safety for everybody, right? We feel very confident this is the best information, the best situation that we’re going to, the best environment, the safest environment — otherwise, we won’t do it. The NBA won’t allow that to move forward.
“We’re still proceeding as directed, as normal. So I don’t see any issues today. Moving forward, unless somebody tells us differently, that’s what we’re prepared to do.”
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