Defending Western Conference champion the Phoenix Suns will be without star goaltender Devin Booker when training camp opens early next week. He is currently in health and safety protocols, the team said on Sunday. Booker later confirmed on his Twitch channel that he tested positive for COVID-19. He said he felt good but didn’t have the taste or smell.
Booker will also not be able to participate in the media day, which is set for Monday. At this point, it’s unclear when Booker will be able to join the squad. Going forward, their first preseason game is scheduled for Monday, October 4 against the Sacramento Kings, while the regular season opening night is Wednesday, October 20 against the Denver Nuggets. Booker noted that he tested positive a week ago, so based on that schedule, he may miss one or more preseason contests. However, he should be back long before the regular season starts.
While the NBA has hoped to get back to normal this season, the continued presence of COVID-19 means it won’t be possible. As training camp approaches, 90% of players are fully vaccinated, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Convincing the remaining players to get vaccinated has been a challenge for the league. It is not known whether Booker has the vaccine or not.
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At this point, the league hasn’t implemented a vaccination mandate, and a recent Rolling Stone report suggests it’s not a start for the players. However, the league abides by local health regulations, which means players in certain cities – New York and San Francisco, for example – will need to be vaccinated in order to play at home. Andrew Wiggins and Kyrie Irving are two high profile players who could be affected by these rules.
It’s unclear how all of this will play out over the course of the season, but Booker’s situation is a reminder that COVID-19 is always going to have an impact.