PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers have signed three new players to 10-day contracts, according to a Sunday news release from the team.
Guard Jarron Cumberland, 24, guard Brandon Williams, 24, and forward Cameron McGriff, 22, were signed via the NBA's hardship exception. Cumberland will wear No. 34, McGriff will wear No. 8 and Williams will wear No. 5.
The hardship exception allows teams to temporarily expand their rosters beyond the usual limit of 15 players if at least four of a team's existing players are going to miss upcoming games due to illness or injury.
The news release did not specify the cause of the hardship exception for the new Blazers recruits, but the news comes after five of the team's players reportedly entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to tweets from The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Charania initially reported on Friday that Dennis Smith Jr. and Trendon Watford were entering quarantine and the rest of the team would be re-tested. In a follow-up tweet on Saturday, he reported that Robert Covington, Ben McLemore and Keljin Blevins would also need to isolate.
The news about Smith Jr. and Watford came one day after the Blazers were scheduled to host the Brooklyn Nets, but the game was postponed because the Nets had too many players in quarantine. Several other NBA games have been similarly postponed this month.
The Blazers reported in September that 100% of the team’s players and staff were fully vaccinated, and no Blazers players have had to enter COVID protocols until now. The team did not reply to a request for comment on Friday.
Under the NBA health and safety protocols, players who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days after the first positive test or show at least two negative PCR test results from samples collected at least 24 hours apart before they can return.
The updated protocols announced at the start of the 2021-22 season put heavy restrictions and testing schedules in place for unvaccinated players but largely exempted vaccinated players from regular testing and other requirements unless they developed symptoms of COVID-19.
The highly contagious and partially vaccine-resistant omicron variant has forced a reassessment of those standards. ESPN reported earlier this month that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed to implement a stricter set of masking and testing rules for the holiday season, with game-day tests for all players and staff unless they have received a booster shot.
The Blazers are next scheduled to face off against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, followed by the Utah Jazz on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.