Wes Unseld Jr. enters COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
Washington Wizards, Wes Unseld Jr.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

As reported on by ESPN, Washington Wizards Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr. has entered into the NBA’s COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols. Unseld Jr. is in his first season as Washington’s head coach, which also serves as his first stint as a head coach in the NBA. Previously, he has held an assistant position on the Denver Nuggets from 2015-2021, the Orlando Magic from 2012-2015, the Golden State Warriors from 2011-2012, and the Wizards from 2005-2011.

It’s been reported that Wizard’s assistant coach Pat Delany will take over the head coaching duties during Unseld Jr’s. absence. Delany has served as an assistant coach on the Charlotte Hornets from 2014-2018 and the Orlando Magic from 2018-2021 before joining the Wizard’s coaching staff this past offseason. He does also have head coaching experience with the G-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce during the 2013-14 season. Delany has said that he talked with Unseld Jr., who said that he was feeling ok.

Washington Wizard’s Head Coach Wes Unseld Jr. has entered into the NBA’s health and safety protocols. What does this mean for the immediate future of the team?

According to the most recent update to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the soonest that Unseld Jr. could return to the sidelines is in six days, placing his earliest return on January 20th. However, that’s only if he is asymptomatic and meets other certain testing requirements. It’s not unlikely to think that he may be out for longer, though how much longer will obviously depend on the severity of his case, as well as if he has actually contracted the coronavirus or simply was exposed to it.

At minimum, this means that Unseld Jr. will miss at least the next three games against the Portland Trailblazers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets. And while there’s never a good time for things like this, Unseld Jr. entering the health and safety protocols does come at an exceptionally poor time for the Wizards, who have won their last three games and are hoping to hold on to an Eastern Conference playoff spot. With two of their next three games being against tough Eastern Conference opponents, playing without their head coach is likely to put the Wizard’s at even more of a disadvantage.

It’s to be assumed that Washington will also be facing those opponents without the aid of their star shooting guard Bradley Beal, who Delany confirmed on Friday is still in the league’s health and safety protocol. Beal entered into the protocol for the second time three days ago, after entering them for the first time on Dec. 23rd, which lasted about a week. After that time, Beal said his isolation was due to contact tracing and exposure to the virus, rather than having contracted the disease itself.

Wizard’s rookie Corey Kispert has been starting in Beal’s absence. During those six games, he’s averaged 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 50.9 percent shooting from the field, as opposed to his numbers when he has come off of the bench this year, which have been 4.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game on 39.5 percent shooting from the floor. Washington hasn’t seen much of an advantage with Kispert in or out of the starting lineups, going 15-16 with him coming off the bench and 3-3 with him in the starting five.

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