Major headlines and important covid/restart-related updates percolated throughout the day Monday. Let’s touch on as many as we can.
Russell Westbrook announces positive test
The Houston Rockets' star erased any doubt about why he wasn’t with the team in Orlando's restart bubble. He formally announced that he had tested positive
. From his statement:
“I tested positive for covid-19 prior to my team’s departure to Orlando. I’m currently feeling well, quarantined, and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared.”
Houston begins its restart July 31 vs. the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets are already assured of a playoff spot, so it’s not essential for the championship chase that Westbrook return until the postseason begins August 17. Houston is currently tied with Westbrook’s former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, at 40-24.
Worth noting: Though it may not mean anything, James Harden hasn’t yet joined the Rockets in Orlando either.
Westbrook didn’t provide details about when he may have caught the virus. The Las Vegas Review-Journal noted that Westbrook was photographed partying at the Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas on June 13. There’s contagion all over the country (particularly Houston), so he could have caught it anywhere.
Denver Nuggets missing three players
Currently sitting in third place in the NBA’s Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets are missing three players in their Orlando camp according to persistent observers such Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports
. Guard Gary Harris, and forwards Torrey Craig and Michael Porter, Jr. have all been absent so far. Given the limited time between now and the start of exhibition games, any unannounced absence not linked to a known injury is turning into a presumptive positive.
WNBA finally announces schedule
Basketball sharps have been waiting weeks for more details on the upcoming WNBA season
. The league finally announced Monday that it would tip off Saturday, July 25 with a tripleheader
Saturday July 25 (all times Eastern)
Seattle Storm vs. NY Liberty (ESPN, noon)
Los Angeles Sparks vs. Phoenix Mercury (ABC, 3 p.m.)
Washington Mystics vs. Indiana Fever (CBS Sports Network (5 p.m.)
All 12 teams will play a 22-game regular season schedule that is currently scheduled to end Friday, Sept. 11 with playoffs to follow.
(Monday evening, news broke that WNBA star Elena Delle Donne had been denied a medical waiver to miss the 2020 season. She’s been battling Lyme disease since 2008. Delle Donne must now decided if she’ll forfeit pay and skip the season, or risk playing.)
We can now pencil in these dates for restarting leagues:
: Thursday, July 23 (most teams start Friday, July 24)
: Saturday, July 25
: Thursday, July 30 (most teams start Friday July 31)
: Saturday, Aug. 1
If the bubbles remain safe, sports betting schedules are going to be super-crowded from July 30 onward.
Let’s take a quick second to update covid case counts in bubble areas. Orange County (NBA and MLS: Orlando) reported 936 new cases Monday. While that was down from a bleak Sunday number of 1,371, it’s still one of the highest counts yet for that area. Manatee County (WNBA-Bradenton) reported 154, which was lower the prior few days, but still the sixth straight day over 150. Osceola County (MLS games-Kissimmee) reported 275 new cases. That’s down from 306 Sunday, but the third straight day over 200 after a long stretch below that. For hockey fans, the entire country of Canada reported 565.
Miami Dolphins aware NFL training schedule could get pushed back
Miami-Dade County continues to get hard hit by the virus. Monday’s count of 3,269 was slightly down from Sunday’s 3,576, but was still the second-worst ever. (Some medical experts are calling Miami “the new Wuhan.”
Miami Dolphins players told local media that they wouldn’t be surprised if the scheduled start of training camp July 28 gets moved back. Frankly, current counts in home areas for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Bucs make a delay seem inevitable. Florida’s state government isn’t instituting many mitigation strategies at the moment.
California re-closes bars, indoor restaurants, other enclosed public businesses
California announced Monday that it would be ordering a re-closing of many indoor establishments (including bars, restaurants, movie theaters and museums) because of covid worries
. Earlier in the day, the state’s two largest school districts (Los Angeles and San Diego) announced they would begin the fall school semester with online classes only.
If all of California soon commits to keeping students off campus, it could have a big impact nationally on college sports this fall and winter.
Other Stories of Interest
*Patriot League cancels fall football (NY Post)
*College football outlook bleaker (Yahoo Sports)
*MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays may play “home” games in Buffalo (WGR-radio)
*More cases of repeated infections (Vox.com)
*Studies show immunity might disappear within a few months (NY Post)
VSiN Clips/Tweets on Betting Restarts
*Brett McMurphy discusses hopes for a college football season with Mitch and Pauly (Follow the Money)
*Mitch and Pauly on the jammed sports schedules hopefully coming up soon (Follow the Money)
*JVT on how a potential Russell Westbrook absence would affect Houston (The Edge)
*JVT with a betting overview of the NL East (The Edge)
*Danny Burke and Chuck Esposito talk college football with ESPN’s Chris Fallica (Bet On, Chicago)