You may have had to quadruple-check the account while wiping the crumbs out of your eyes this morning. Unfortunately, it was a verified Shams Charania tweeting that Chris Paul has been sidelined indefinitely due to COVID protocol just over two days removed from the Phoenix Suns defeating the Denver Nuggets in Round 2 of the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Suns are ready and waiting for the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz series to conclude, meaning the Western Conference Finals are at least several days away from beginning, but Paul could be out for longer depending on whether or not he’s actually been vaccinated.
For what it’s worth, Paul said vaccinations were a personal choice when asked in March. However, on Get Up, Jalen Rose said Paul is vaccinated, and that he doesn’t anticipate Paul missing more than one game at the most.
Literally, minutes after the initial announcement of CP3 being sidelined (before Rose’s contribution) ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Los Angeles Clippers — who are already missing Serge Ibaka due to season-ending back surgery — will be without Kawhi Leonard for tonight’s Game 5 with Utah due to a knee injury.
The initial injury came when colliding with Jazz swingman Joe Ingles. Following the game, he said, “Nah, I’ll be good,” when asked about the bump.
His return is entirely in question, and per Windhorst, he had informed his Clipper teammates to expect to be without him tonight.
ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry reported that Kyrie Irving’s sprained ankle made him the seventh NBA All-Star to miss playoff games this season, a list that includes Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Jaylen Brown, and Joel Embiid, who is probably playing with a torn meniscus and went 0-for-12 in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4. Leonard would now be the eighth name on that list, and Paul could be ninth depending on his status going forward, as well as the general conclusion to Clippers vs. Jazz.
Conley, who has been out with a hamstring injury, will also miss Game 5.
And, for good measure, James Harden just played 46 minutes last night on an injured hamstring, recording five points on 1-of-10 shooting, eight assists, six rebounds, and 0-for-8 from three.
As an added reported tidbit: League MVP and likely insanely-tired Nikola Jokić has opted out of playing in the Serbia-held Olympic qualifier beginning later this month, as well as the Olympics themselves if Serbia does qualify.
More than perhaps any other season in NBA history due to the condensed schedule, the team who could field the healthiest rotation will likely win the championship. And, of note, the NBA will begin on time with training camps starting in late September and the regular season to follow in mid-October for this upcoming season, all of which will come after the Olympics. Meanwhile, COVID-19 is still prevalent around the world. “Health and safety” are two words that have never been more important.
Updated Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 1:15 p.m.: Hours after it was announced that CP3 was entering COVID protocol, it was reported by Arizona sports radio host John Gambadoro that Paul actually tested positive for the coronavirus, and is sidelined indefinitely. He also reported that Golden State Warriors swingman Damion Lee tested positive even after being vaccinated, though the vaccinations they received are unknown.
Charania also reported that Leonard’s injury may actually be a torn ACL, which is the current fear in the Clippers’ organization.
As the NBA news cycle has been all day, these are developing stories.