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7 Trail Blazers players enter COVID health and safety protocols. What's next?

According to a new report by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the seven Blazers players may need to quarantine for just 6 days instead of the previous protocol of 10.
Credit: AP
Memphis Grizzlies guard De'Anthony Melton (0) shoots as Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington (33), center Jusuf Nurkic (27), and center Steven Adams (4) move for position in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Seven Portland Trail Blazers players who have entered the league's health and safety protocols may only need to miss six days instead of 10, according to a new report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, before they are eligible to return to action.

"Vaccinated NBA players and coaches can now clear quarantine after six days if COVID-19 testing data shows they're no longer at risk to be infectious," Wojnarowski reported, citing a memo sent to teams Monday that was obtained by ESPN. Previously, league protocol required league personnel to wait 10 days to test out of quarantine.

Shortly after Wojnarowski's report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidance that people with COVID-19 should isolate for five days, instead of the previously recommended 10. It's unclear if the NBA will shorten its isolation protocol to five days to match the new CDC guidance.

RELATED: CDC recommends shorter COVID isolation, quarantine for all

That's good news for the Blazers, who have placed seven players — centers Jusuf Nurkic, Cody Zeller, forwards Robert Covington and Trendon Watford and guards Dennis Smith Jr., Ben McLemore and Keljin Blevins — in health and safety protocols since Christmas Eve. As of Monday afternoon, 172 NBA players have entered into the league's health and safety protocols in the past two weeks, according to Wojnarowski.

On Monday, Wojnarowski also reported that Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has entered the league's health and safety protocols. Assistant coach Scott Brooks will be the Blazers' acting head coach while Billups is out, Wojnarowski reported.

On Christmas Eve, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Smith Jr. and Watford had entered quarantine. In a follow-up tweet on Saturday, he reported Covington, McLemore and Blevins would also need to isolate. Then on Sunday, Charania reported that Nurkic and Zeller would need to quarantine.

All seven players will miss at least Monday's game against the Mavericks and Wednesday's game against the Jazz. Wojnarowski's reporting indicates that Smith Jr. and Watford could return for Friday's game against the Lakers and that the other five players could return in time for Portland's game against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, though the details of each players' return date has not been confirmed.

RELATED: Blazers sign three players to 10-day contracts

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Monday that the Blazers signed 6-foot-8 forward/center Reggie Perry to a 10-day hardship contract. Perry is a former second-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets who is currently playing for the G League's Raptors 905. The Blazers previously signed three other G League players to 10-day deals — 6-5 guard Jarron Cumberland, 6-2 guard Brandon Williams and 6-7 forward Cameron McGriff.

So what's next for Portland? Will these 10 days officially tank their season? Is Damian Lillard about to do some superhero stuff (he's questionable for Monday's game)? There's a lot of questions and at least some of them get answered in this episode of Locked on Blazers.

Note: This episode was recorded before the news about Billups and the signing of Perry broke Monday morning and before Wojnarowski's report about the reduced quarantine time.

LISTEN: Locked on Blazers

WATCH: Locked on Blazers

About Locked On Blazers

Mike Richman has covered the Portland Trail Blazers in various capacities since 2014 as a beat writer for The Oregonian, a reporter at NBC Sports Northwest and now in the form of the only daily Trail Blazers podcast, Locked On Blazers. The Pass First Point Guard will get you closer to the team with reports from inside the Moda Center and by unpacking the statistics to know and about your favorite team. You will also find regular guests and can get your questions answered with weekly mailbag shows.

If you would like to participate in the weekly mailbag show, submit your questions to @mikegrich on Twitter or email lockedonblazerspod@gmail.com.

Locked On Blazers is the best way to stay up to date on the latest happenings in the Portland basketball world. It’s available wherever you get podcasts and on YouTube with new shows every weekday.

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