Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday afternoon that both Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn have entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, increasing the total to five players having been flagged for the Toronto Raptors. The two guards — at this point, numbers one and two on the depth chart — join Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent Jr., and Dalano Banton on the sideline as the omicron wave continues to spread across North America.
The Raptors have seven players in protocols, including four new cases today with Barnes, Achiuwa, Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn. Also: Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent and Dalano Banton. A full outbreak in Toronto.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2021
Updated 3 p.m.: Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa join five other Raptors, leaving just six Raptors available for Wednesday’s game in Chicago. Adrian Wojnarowski reports individuals are ‘rushing to the scene’ in order for Toronto to be allowed to play.
The Raptors charter is taxiing on runway to take flight to Chicago, source tells ESPN. They have 7 players in protocols, injuries and appears 6 regular players -- plus replacements rushing to scene -- available to play the Bulls on Wednesday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2021
The NBA’s response to the incredible spike of sidelined players — a list which includes a number of stars — has been to open up the flood gates for G-League and former players to debut and return to the league via hardship exceptions, just in time for the league’s Christmas day marathon.
The Raptors have been taking advantage of the hardship exceptions however, as Shams Charania of the Athletic reports Toronto will be announcing a third signing today — in addition to signing two players yesterday, and calling up Nik Stauskas from the G-League — guard Tremont Waters of the G-League Wisconsin Herd, amid the news of its depleted backcourt.
I can’t imagine the league continuing to put thousands of people at risk nightly as the mutated virus continues to spread. It’ll be a public relations nightmare if Adam Silver doesn’t make the tough decision to bite the bullet and stop league play until an infrastructure or system is in place to better protect individuals from the new COVID-19 variant.