San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will be off the court until at least next week with four players testing positive for coronavirus. Nell Redmond/Associated Press

The San Antonio Spurs are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak among four players, the NBA said Tuesday, meaning the Spurs will not play until the middle of next week at the earliest.

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is concerned about an influx of people coming to the city for the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta. David Goldman/Associated Press

Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – whose city was picked to play host to the NBA All-Star Game and skills competitions on March 7 – raised major concerns about the notion of fans coming to the city for the events. “People should not travel to Atlanta to party,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The NBA on Tuesday postponed five more games: the next three for the Spurs – at Cleveland on Wednesday, at New York on Saturday and at Indiana on Monday – as well as the next two for the Charlotte Hornets while contact tracing is completed.

The Hornets were scheduled to play host to Chicago on Wednesday and Denver on Friday. Their games have been halted because they were the last team to play the Spurs, losing to them on Sunday. The league is reviewing data to see if any Hornets may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, a process that takes time.

Charlotte’s next possible game is now Saturday at home against Golden State, in what would be Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s annual return to North Carolina, where he grew up. San Antonio’s next possible game is Feb. 24 at Oklahoma City, meaning the Spurs will have more than a week between contests – joining Washington and Memphis as teams to endure such a situation this season.

The postponements announced Tuesday push the total of games that have been moved back this season because of positive tests or contact tracing issues to 29, including the Spurs’ game at Detroit that was scheduled Tuesday night. The NBA called that game off on Monday.

Also postponed: Detroit at Dallas, scheduled for Wednesday, now off because of the severe winter weather that has hit Texas – where more than 4 million homes and businesses were without power Tuesday in subfreezing temperatures.

Denver will now play at Cleveland on Friday, the NBA said. That game, originally targeted for the second half of the season, is replacing the postponed Nuggets-Hornets game on the schedule. The NBA has said it will shuffle some games, when possible, to accommodate the need to reschedule games in the second half of the season.

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, two-time NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers and others have spoken out in recent days to express their unhappiness about the idea of playing an All-Star Game during a pandemic — and wedging it into an already jam-packed and truncated season.

The NBA told teams Monday that strict protocols will be in place for the All-Star events; players will be allowed a very limited number of guests, all participants must travel to Atlanta by private car or plane, and for the most part players will be allowed to leave their hotels only for All-Star events at the arena.

Tickets will not be sold. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier this week that some vaccinated front-line workers will be invited to attend, but there will not be events for the general public — an obvious change from past All-Star weekends, which tend to attract tens of thousands of fans for the game, parties and atmosphere.

“Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year,” Bottoms said. “I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party.”

BUCKS: Milwaukee will start having a limited number of spectators at their home games beginning Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors.

Bucks officials are phasing in the process by having only players’ families and invited guests at their next three games. They’ll have 250 spectators Tuesday, 500 for Thursday’s game with Toronto and 750 for Friday’s game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Members of the general public will be allowed to attend games starting Sunday when the Bucks face the Sacramento Kings.

The Milwaukee Health Department has approved that the Bucks only allow fans to fill 10% of Fiserv Forum’s seating capacity, which equates to about 1,800 spectators. Bucks officials are hoping that increases to 25% capacity during the second half of the season. Spectators must wear face coverings at all times except when they’re eating or drinking. All tickets will be sold in pods of two or four seats to ensure social distancing. Fans won’t be allowed to bring in bags.

WARRIORS: Forward Draymond Green sharply criticized the NBA following Monday night’s win over Cleveland, saying players put on the trading block by teams are being treated unfairly.

Green spoke out after news broke of the Cavaliers sitting two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond because they’re looking to deal him. Drummond watched Monday’s game and cheered on his teammates from the bench while wearing street clothes.

“I would like to talk about something that’s really bothering me. It’s the treatment of players in this league,” Green said, cursing to emphasize his point: “To watch Andre Drummond … come out in street clothes because a team is going to trade him, it’s (expletive).

“Because when James Harden asked for a trade and essentially dogged it — I don’t think no one’s gonna fight that James was dogging it his last days in Houston — but he was castrated for wanting to go to a different team, and everybody destroyed that man.

“Yet a team can come out and say, ’Oh, we want to trade a guy,’ and then that guy is to go sit and if he doesn’t stay professional, then he’s a cancer and he’s not good in someone’s locker room and he’s the issue.”

Green pointed out how then-New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was fined $50,000 for publicly demanding a trade in 2019.

KNICKS: New York center Mitchell Robinson will be out until after next month’s All-Star break after having surgery to repair a broken right hand.

The Knicks said Robinson had the procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery and would be reevaluated after the All-Star break, which is scheduled for March 5-10.

Robinson was hurt last Friday in Washington when he banged his hand trying to block a shot. The Knicks have won both games in his absence.

Robinson shot an NBA-record 74.2% from the field last season and was hitting 66%, tops in the league, when he was hurt. His 1.52 blocks per game rank ninth.

TIMBERWOLVES: Minnesota point guard D’Angelo Russell will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and be sidelined for four to six weeks, the team announced Tuesday.

Russell, who has missed the last three games due to soreness in his left leg, was diagnosed with a loose body in his knee. The procedure will take place Wednesday.

Russell, who turns 25 next week, is averaging 19.3 points and 5.1 assists this season on 42.6% shooting. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft had quadriceps soreness in his right leg earlier that kept him out for four games.

More than a calendar year after the Timberwolves acquired Russell in a trade with Golden State, pairing him with his pal Karl-Anthony Towns, the Russell-Towns duo has played in only five games together. Towns missed long stretches of time because of a wrist injury last season and this one. More recently, he was sidelined by COVID-19 for more than three weeks.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.