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Hield trying to stay relaxed in NBA bubble

Bahamian professional basketball player with the Sacramento Kings Chavano “Buddy” Hield is trying to loosen up while training with his team in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida.

After a series of team practices, the Kings will face the Miami Heat in their first preseason game on Wednesday at the HP Field House in Orlando – one of three NBA-sized courts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex where the restart of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season is being held.

Hield and the Kings find themselves tied for ninth in the Western Conference of the NBA, and need to make up three and a half games on the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in just eight games. The Kings have a 28-36 win/loss record while the Grizzlies are 32-33. Regular season action resumes next Friday for the Kings when they take on the San Antonio Spurs.

Back in the fold with his team after battling the coronavirus, Hield said he feels fine and is looking forward to game action again. The NBA has been on hold for the past four months – ever since March 11 when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19.

Confined in the bubble, the Kings’ sharp shooting guard jokingly said he is looking for an escape.

“I’ve been trying to find a way to get out,” he told the Sacramento Bee – a daily newspaper in Sacramento, California. “I’m going to do something like ‘El Chapo’, build a tunnel under the hotel so I can sneak my ass out of here,” he added, referencing Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán who escaped a maximum security federal prison through a tunnel in Almoloya de Juárez, Mexico, in 2015.

Despite the reference, Hield likely won’t be going anywhere for a while as the NBA has strict guidelines in place regarding team separation and breaking protocols. Richaun Holmes, in particular, the team’s starting center, is under extended quarantine orders after breaking protocols designed to ensure health and safety inside the NBA bubble. He was sent to his room and placed under a mandatory 10-day quarantine after he left the bubble to pick up a food delivery.

Hield, 27, rejoined the team a little over a week ago, clearing all COVID-19 protocols. He was one of four Kings’ players to test positive for the virus since June – the others being Alex Len, Jabari Parker and Harrison Barnes. Hield and Parker are with the team in Orlando while Len and Barnes are still in Sacramento.

Hield is having a fantastic season for the Kings, averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 32 minutes per game. He is shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from three-point land. The fourth-year guard was this year’s Mountain Dew NBA Three-Point Contest Champion, and up to the stoppage of play, was second in the league in three-pointers made with 244 – on pace to break the franchise record of 278 he had a year ago.

Hield tested positive for the novel coronavirus in late June, about two weeks after taking part in a Skinz League game in Edmond, Oklahoma – about a 40-minute car ride from where he played collegiately for the Oklahoma Sooners. Hield exploded for 45 points in that exhibition game, including 13 three-pointers.

Hield said he briefly experienced mild symptoms after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in June.

“I wasn’t scared or anything like that,” Hield said. “I tested positive and I was just concerned for the people around me like my daughter and my girl and my family. I didn’t want anybody getting infected by it. I didn’t want my carelessness causing someone to lose their life or something like that.”

The Bahamian 6’4” 220-pound guard was replaced in the starting line-up by Bogdan Bogdanovic by first-year Kings’ Head Coach Luke Walton in January, but has continued his torrid shooting. In fact, some of his better games have come since being relegated to the bench. Hield canned a game-high 42 points including nine three-pointers in a 133-129 overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 27, and 31 points including nine more three-pointers in a 122-102 win over the San Antonio Spurs on February 8.

The Kings have won 13 out of 20 games since Hield was sent to the bench. He converted 46.3 percent of his long range attempts in February alone.

All 22 teams of the NBA teams at the restart in Orlando are staying at the Walt Disney World Resort and are being tested regularly for the coronavirus. Hield himself was required to quarantine in his room until he tested negative for COVID-19 twice over a span of more than 24 hours, before he was allowed to rejoin the team for training. He stepped on the court for the first time with his team since March last week Tuesday.

Hield and the Kings will play three preseason games before taking on the Spurs next Friday. They will end their eight-game schedule against the Los Angeles Lakers on August 13.

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