It is likely that Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul could miss the first game of the Western Conference Finals. He has entered into COVID protocol. Take a look at what that means for Paul and the Suns.
The Phoenix Suns‘ statement says: “Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul is currently out due to health and safety protocols. The next update on his status will be provided on Saturday, June 19.” Currently, there is no information on how long he might have to isolate or when he will be available, but hopefully that update is coming soon!
The NBA Coronavirus Protocol
The NBA’s rules for COVID-related isolation has evolved throughout the season in correlation with increasing vaccine numbers. These rules are the playbook for how the league has handled everything related to the coronavirus this year. We’ve see players missing multiple weeks after positive COVID-19 tests and we’ve also seen players missing very short amounts of time for matters such as contact tracing investigations.
In March, the NBA responded to updated CDC guidance and vaccination numbers by relaxing some of the protocols from the fall. However, if a player is exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID, the previous protocols from the fall will apply, and players would be subject to quarantine regardless of vaccination status. With a positive test, the two paths back to the court are time-based or test-based.
As of right now, the Suns haven’t announced what Chris Paul entered protocol for or which rules he might fall under.
ESPN’s Matt Barnes said Paul told him on Wednesday that he has been vaccinated. Because of this, he could be facing a shorter absence from the Suns.
What this Means for the Suns
Chris Paul has been key to the Suns success all season, including during the playoffs when they defeated the L.A. Lakers and swept the Denver Nuggets in the first two rounds. If he returns soon, this will be his second time in the Western Conference Finals. Chris Paul’s last appearance was in 2018 with the Houston Rockets, when an injury kept him out of Games 6 and 7.
The Suns haven’t been to the Western Conference Finals since 2010. In 1976 and 1993, the Suns won the Conference title but never won the Championship.
The Suns will face either the Clippers or the Jazz. They play again on Friday, June 18, at 7 p.m. The Clippers lead the series 3-2. They’ll play Game 7 on Sunday if necessary. Game 1 of the conference finals will be either Sunday or Tuesday, depending on how the game goes on June 18.