More Wizards players enter COVID-19 protocols, bringing total to 6

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More Wizards players in COVID protocols, bringing total to 6 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards now have six players in the NBA's health and safety protocols, as well as several staff members, as they continue to monitor a coronavirus outbreak.

The latest players to enter protocols are big men Anthony Gill and Thomas Bryant, along with guard Aaron Holiday. They join Raul Neto, who was placed in protocols just before the team's game on Sunday night, as well as Bradley Beal and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Bryant has yet to appear in a game this season as he continues to recover from ACL surgery, but this still leaves the Wizards with four players usually on their active roster who are unavailable for the time being.

"I’m having a hard time keeping track of it. It changes by the hour," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Monday.

Caldwell-Pope tested positive a week ago, so there is some optimism he could return soon. He needs two consecutive negative tests to be cleared. Beal was not far behind him and Unseld Jr. said he's hopeful he will be cleared before Tuesday's game at the Miami Heat.

Neto entered protocols after the team did a round of tests at their walkthrough on Sunday afternoon. The news broke he would be out just an hour before tip-off and after Unseld Jr. had addressed the media in his pregame press conference.

Things are moving fast, but Unseld Jr. is encouraged by the fact no one seems to be severely affected by the virus.

"I think it ranges from no symptoms to very light symptoms. I don’t think there have been any severe issues beyond flu-like [symptoms] or common cold, which is good. Obviously, the concern and the underlying thing is safety and the safety of their individual family and immediate folks around them. So, that’s a positive," Unseld Jr. said.

The Wizards are able to sign players to 10-day hardship contracts due to recent league rule changes and have called up two guards from their G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. Having Jordan Schakel and Jordan Goodwin has helped them continue to practice simply by having enough players to run 5-on-5 scrimmages.

Yet, it has still been a challenge given those players are not regular members of the team who fully understand the playbook and personnel. There could also be a domino effect when players return due to their time off and depending on their symptoms.

The Wizards experienced the after-effects of players in protocols last season when they had six games over a two-week stretch postponed due to an outbreak. Once they returned to game action, the Wizards had trouble competing against teams that were in midseason form.

Forward Kyle Kuzma recently had a brief stint in protocols and described what it was like when he came back.

"I was messed up. I was sick and I was down for six days. I didn’t really do anything for about six days. So, coming back into those first three games… it was a struggle," he said.

"I was definitely struggling with my breathing and my conditioning because obviously when you’re sitting out during the season, it’s weird because you play games every other day. When your body has two days off or three days off, it’s like whoa, what are we doing right now? Then, combat that with having COVID, I was struggling a little bit."