According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Denver Nuggets two-time All-Star and reigning first-team All-NBA center Nikola Jokic has tested positive for COVID-19 after spending time back in his native country of Serbia during the league’s hiatus.
Jokic is not showing signs of symptoms, which is a good sign for his overall health. According to reporting by Mike Singer of the Denver Post, Jokic has already began his quarantine in Serbia which means he should have enough time to get healthy and finish with his quarantine before teams are set to arrive in Orlando between July 7th and 9th to begin their formal training camps.
All players were set to report to their teams in their market on June 22nd and all players who were outside of the United States were expected to return by June 15th, but Jokic was granted an exception to stay in Serbia to attend a ceremony celebrating his former coach for Mega Basketball Dejan Milojevic. Unfortunately one of the Serbian players at the event, which occurred eight days ago, tested positive for COVID-19, but things did not stop there. Novak Djokovic, who Jokic was seen spending time with at the same event, also recently tested positive.
Because Jokic is currently self-isolating, his travel back to Denver has been delayed, but Wojnarowski has reported that Jokic is expected to arrive to Denver “within a week”. Singer also confirmed that with his own reporting when he stated that “the Nuggets aren’t concerned about getting (Jokic) back before the team heads to Orlando”.
According to Singer, the Nuggets declined to comment on his positive test result citing medical privacy.
Considering how little is known about this virus, speculating on how getting COVID-19 could impact Jokic’s play is impossible. It is certainly a bad thing to happen, but the question is how bad of a toll can the virus take on Jokic’s body in the short term and the long term. Yes, he is asymptomatic, but very little is known about the long-lasting effects of contracting coronavirus. Hopefully Jokic has nothing but a long and healthy life going forward within and beyond basketball.
Jokic is now the third member of the Nuggets organization who has tested positive for COVID-19. An unnamed Nuggets staffer tested positive back on March 19th, the Nuggets announced in a statement. Additionally, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone started feeling sick on March 20th, but was unable to receive a test due to lack of accessibility. It was not until antibody testing became more prevalent a couple months later that Malone was able to get tested. That is when Malone’s suspicions were confirmed; at one point, he had contracted coronavirus as he told Michael Spencer of CBS4 in Denver.
The scary truth is that Jokic might not be the last member of the Nuggets to test positive for COVID-19. The rest of the league is getting tested over the next couple of days prior to their in-market training camps which means the total number of cases in the National Basketball Association is more than likely going to spike. It is important to remember that this is not necessarily an indication of an outbreak, but more about the general lack of testing for so many months throughout this pandemic. But the fact that more positive tests are comings is also mirroring another hard reality — the NBA trying to resume their season is already incredibly complex and it is only going to get more complicated as issues continue to appear such as a top-five player in the league confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus in Jokic.
Still, it seems that so long as Jokic stays self-isolated he should be back in Denver in the very near future to get ready for their postseason push.
The Nuggets currently have a 43-22 record they will bring with them into the Walt Disney World bubble for their final eight games of the regular season before the playoffs begin. Denver is the third seed in the Western Conference as they trail the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers by 1.5 games and lead the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz by 1.5 games.