Bahamian sharp-shooting guard with the Sacramento Kings Chavano “Buddy” Hield has now joined his team in the “bubble” set up for NBA teams for resumption of the season, after clearing COVID-19 protocols. However, the 6’4” 27-year-old will still have to wait a couple days before he can participate in a team practice.
Hield was one of three Kings’ players to test positive for the novel coronavirus in recent weeks, jeopardizing his return to the team this season. However, he stated from the beginning that he had no intention of forgoing the season and was looking forward to getting healthy and returning to action to aid in the Kings’ attempt to get into the playoffs.
The Kings are currently tied for 10th with the New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA) with a 28-37 win/loss record – three and a half games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies with just eight games to play in the reduced format of the 2019-2020 regular season. They will play their first game on Friday, July 31, against the San Antonio Spurs (27-36).
Following the completion of the regular season, the league will move directly into its post season, which is expected to be completed in October.
All of the games are being played at the ESPN World Wide Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
As for Hield, Head Coach Luke Walton said he is hopeful that he will be able to get him on the court for practice as early as Tuesday. The state of Florida has seen a spike in cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks, reporting thousands of new cases on a daily basis. On Saturday, a record 15,000-plus new cases were recorded in one day, and an additional 12,000-plus were reported on Sunday. It is the third-most impacted state in the United States in total cases, trailing just New York and California.
The first-year Head Coach of the Kings, who moved Hield to the bench this season, said the threat of the coronavirus pandemic presents a challenge for all the teams, as they prepare to resume play.
“With the pandemic and players getting sick and coming in and out, that’s where it gets more challenging,” Walton said. “It’s going to be: Can we keep guys healthy? Do they get cleared? When they get cleared, how long does it take to get back into playing shape?”
The latest high-profile player to test positive for the deadly disease is Houston Rockets’ superstar guard Russell Westbrook. He has said that he anticipates joining his team when cleared.
On Sunday, Hield posted a photo of himself on Snapchat from inside an airplane, kicking his feet up and munching on donuts, as he travelled to Orlando.
He and Jabari Parker, who was one of the other Kings’ players to test positive for the coronavirus, will be required to quarantine in their rooms at Walt Disney World’s Yacht Club Resort, and must test negative for COVID-19 twice at least 24 hours apart before they can participate in team activities. The same was required of all players, coaches and staff who entered the bubble when teams arrived last week.
The other Kings’ player to test positive for the coronavirus was forward/center Alex Len. Hield and Len are believed to have tested positive June 22, the first day NBA teams conducted mandatory testing after players returned to home markets. Parker said he tested positive several days earlier in Chicago.
A total of 22 NBA teams are in Orlando for the restart of the season, with a number of them trying to solidify playoff spots. The season has been on hold since March 11, after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
In early June, Hield took part in the Skinz League Tournament in Edmond, Oklahoma. He was impressive, netting 45 points that included 13 made three-pointers, and his team won 82-72. He is the Mountain Dew NBA Three-Point Contest Champion this season, and is averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
Hield said he will be looking to perform at a high level to hopefully get his team into the playoffs.