We understand that sports do not really matter now, but this is a sports page, so let’s try to answer some questions about the coronavirus situation as it relates to the Celtics.
JAZZ PLAYERS RUDY GOBERT AND DONOVAN MITCHELL HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS, AND THEY PLAYED IN BOSTON ON MARCH 6. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE CELTICS?
The Celtics have consulted with the state health department and have been told that the likelihood that Gobert or Mitchell passed the virus to the Celtics or others at TD Garden is low. Both players were asymptomatic when they played in Boston. But it’s important to point out that much remains unknown about this virus, and it has become increasingly likely that it can be passed on even when a carrier is not showing symptoms. Pistons center Christian Wood, who guarded Gobert in Detroit’s game against Utah on March 7, has tested positive for coronavirus, too.
SO WHAT ARE THE CELTICS DOING TO MAKE SURE THEY’RE OK?
According to a league source, the team has been undergoing tests this weekend. The results are expected within a couple days. The general results are expected to be released publicly, without naming specific individuals.
I’VE SEEN SO MANY PLAYERS AND TEAMS AROUND THE LEAGUE WHO ARE STEPPING UP AND COVERING THE LOST WAGES OF ARENA EMPLOYEES DURING THE NBA’S BREAK. WHAT’S THE CELTICS’ PLAN?
It’s a bit tricky with the Celtics, because the arena workers are employed by TD Garden, not the team. The Celtics’ game-night operations crew is a much smaller collection of part-time employees. Nevertheless, I’ve been told that the Celtics and TD Garden have been working together to come up with some kind of solution soon. The Lakers and Clippers, for example, do not own Staples Center, but worked with the arena to come up with a compensation plan for employees.
WILL THE CELTICS PLAY AGAIN THIS YEAR?
No one knows. It certainly will not be happening anytime soon. Commissioner Adam Silver already has said it will be at least a 30-day hiatus, but given the way things have accelerated in just the past few days, it’s hard to envision a situation in which play would resume that quickly. The guess here is that if the NBA does come back this year, games will be played in empty arenas.
IF TD GARDEN DOES REOPEN, IS IT EVEN SAFE TO GO THERE?
I’m not an expert, but it’s unlikely anything could survive on a surface for as long as that place will be shut down. I would also guess that there will be an extensive cleaning and disinfection process.
I NEED SOMETHING POSITIVE TO THINK ABOUT. LET’S SAY THE NBA RESUMES PLAY. THE BREAK IS AT LEAST GOOD FOR THE PLAYERS, RIGHT?
Well, it should be. Jaylen Brown had been sidelined since March 3 because of a strained hamstring and was unlikely to play against the Bucks on Thursday. If basketball starts up again, he should be fine. But the break is probably even more important for point guard Kemba Walker, who has been bothered by left knee soreness for about two months. The Celtics sat him down for an extended stretch and then limited his playing time when he returned, but it was clear he was not at full strength.
WOULD THEY PICK UP THE SEASON WHERE IT LEFT OFF, OR JUMP RIGHT INTO THE PLAYOFFS?
The NBA would certainly prefer to play all 82 regular season games, both for financial and competitive reasons. But that might not be feasible. In addition to the fact that it would move the league calendar even further back, reserving venues for that many dates would become complicated. Also, the Olympics, the draft, summer league, and the fact that players need a true offseason will come into play.
OK, SO LET’S SAY THE NBA JUMPS INTO THE PLAYOFFS, WHERE WOULD THAT LEAVE THE CELTICS?
They would be the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed and they would play the sixth-seeded 76ers in the first round. Philadelphia has the same record as Indiana, but the Pacers won the head-to-head series between the two. 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons has been sidelined with a nerve impingement in his back. He could just elect to undergo surgery given the uncertain nature of this year, or this extended break could get him back on the court.
IF THE SEASON IS FROZEN AS IT IS NOW, WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN FOR BOSTON’S FUTURE DRAFT PICKS?
The Grizzlies, who appeared to be in danger of sliding out of the playoffs because of their brutal closing schedule, would end up in the No. 8 slot in the West and thus give the Celtics the 17th overall choice. Boston would have the 26th pick, and the first-round pick they’ll receive from the Bucks would be 30th overall.
WHAT IF THE SEASON IS COMPLETELY CALLED OFF?
That’s certainly possible. It would cost the Celtics a chance at a title, even if it was only slim. Most sportsbooks give Boston the fourth or fifth best championship odds, although they are considerably longer than those of the Bucks, Lakers, and Clippers. For Boston, though, it would be a missed opportunity to get important playoff experience with this core group that does not have much of it together. The good news for Celtics fans is that it is hardly a one-year window. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are this team’s future.
WHEN THE GAMES RESUME, WHENEVER THEY RESUME, WILL EVERYTHING BE DIFFERENT?
Probably. After 9/11, security measures at our sporting events were changed forever. This shift will probably not be that drastic, but minor things like autograph signings and general hygiene measures will probably be handled differently.
I MISS BASKETBALL. CAN YOU GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WATCH?
Well, YouTube has an endless collection of vintage content. When I was searching around, one of the first results was Game 6 of the 1963 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers. It was black and white and simple and a nice distraction. Also, Blue Chips is my favorite basketball movie. It’s a horrible movie, but also wonderful. Stay safe, everyone.