Hampton’s Davion Warren transfers to Memphis

Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer

Hampton University men’s basketball shooting guard Davion Warren officially committed to the University of Memphis on April 3 after entering the transfer portal at the end of the 2020-21 season. 

“100% committed” is what Warren wrote on his Instagram page with a picture of him and Memphis men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway.

Warren chose Memphis after drawing interest from a few other high-major Division I schools, including Texas A&M, Arkansas and North Carolina State. 

“Memphis is a school that likes big guards, and with my size and skill set, I feel like I fit in perfectly,” Warren said to 24/7 Sports. 

Warren finished the 2020-2021 season averaging 21 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting better than 45 percent from the field in 25 games for the Pirates. The 6-foot-6 guard was named first-team all-conference and led the Big South in points and steals per game. 

With Warren coming in, Memphis now has some stability at the guard position as former 5-star guard Boogie Ellis and junior guard Damion Baugh have both entered the transfer portal. 

Warren also will provide Memphis with immediate offensive production after the team ranked 184th in the NCAA in offensive team efficiency last season, according to the Team Rankings’ website. 

“I love being able to go get a bucket and then go on the other end of the floor and get a steal or a stop,” Warren told 24/7 sports. 

Warren joined the Pirates in 2019, averaging just over 10 points per game throughout the season, taking a backseat role to Jermaine Marrow and Benjamin Stanley, who both averaged over 20 points per game. With Marrow graduating and Stanley leaving Hampton for Xavier in 2020, Warren saw higher offensive production with more opportunities to display his game during the 2020-21 season.

“I think it became an opportunity [to score],” Hampton University coach Buck Joyner Jr. said to HBCU Gameday about Warren’s second-year leap. “Last year we felt like we had a good player in Davion, but he had to kind of accept his role and do the things that he needed to do to help us win ball games.”

This is the second year in a row that Hampton has lost a 20-plus point per game scorer to the transfer portal and a high-major basketball program. Stanley committed to Xavier over the likes of Illinois, Dayton and Oregon.

A quick read on the top prospects in the NFL Draft

Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer

The NFL Draft, which will take place April 29 to May 1 in Cleveland, has a lot of intriguing prospects this year. This is one of the deepest quarterback and wide receiver classes in years. Here are the top prospects:

Trevor Lawerence, QB, Clemson University 

Lawrence is a generational talent with a strong, accurate arm and respectable speed. According to USA Today, Lawrence won 34 games as the starting quarterback for Clemson, a school record. The Knoxville, Tennessee native threw for 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his career, according to Sports Reference. Lawrence is projected as the top pick in this year’s draft by ESPN and is expected to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Zach Wilson, QB, BYU 

Wilson has been one of the most talked about quarterbacks in the draft. According to WalterFootball.com, he can extend plays, can make NFL throws on a consistent basis, is very accurate and has extreme competitive drive. Wilson threw for 33 touchdowns during his final season at BYU, per Sports Reference. 

Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Could Fields be a great quarterback or a bust? Fields has shown glimpses of being a franchise quarterback, but his inconsistency reportedly has many teams around the NFL worried. Fields had an exceptional performance against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in January,  throwing for 385 yards and six touchdowns, according to SportsReference. According to WalterFootball.com, he can be rattled by the blitz and occasionally struggles going through his progressions. 

Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State 

Lance is the biggest question mark in this draft. He only played one game in 2020 compared to other quarterback prospects who played at least eight. During his only full season at North Dakota State, he threw zero interceptions and led his team to the conference championship.  

Mac Jones, QB, Alabama 

Jones has the biggest upside in this draft. Throwing to receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, Jones had a stellar pro day performance which moved him higher on ESPN’s draft board. WalterFootball.com says that he may be a game manager at the next level and does not have the biggest arm strength, yet his strong play in the SEC — the NCAA’s strongest football conference — indicates that Jones may transition to the NFL well.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU  

Chase is considered the best receiver this draft, but he did not play last year.  Chase’s decisions to sit out may hurt him, but he still is considered a game changer at the receiver position. In 2019, he had 1,780 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns, per WalterFootball.com. He is a matchup nightmare due to his game-breaking speed, per WalterFootball.com. He is a generational type receiver, with great upside.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama  

Smith burst onto the scene in 2020, winning the Heisman Trophy. Smith was the first player who was not a QB or a running back to win the Heisman since Charles Woodson in 1997.  Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns, per WalterFootball.com. He is a terrific route runner, and when he touches the ball, it could go for six. The only weakness for Smith is his size. At only 175 pounds, some are concerned about how he will adjust to the physicality of the NFL, per WalterFootball.com.  

Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida  

Pitts is the best tight end in the draft. He is a matchup nightmare with receiver skills and a terrific route runner with elite after-the-catch skills, per WalterFootball.com. Pitts had 54 catches, 649 yards and five TDs, despite not playing a lot late in the season, so there is still upside. He can be a spectacular receiving  tight end, but he is not the best blocker.

NHL gets deal with ESPN

Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer

AP Photo by Nam Y. Huh

ESPN and the NHL announced a seven-year television deal March 10. The new deal will have 100 regular-season games per year on ABC, ESPN, ESPN+ and Hulu. Twenty-five games will be on ABC, ESPN and ESPN +, and Hulu will add 75 ESPN-produced exclusive games to the streaming services starting in the fall.   

The network will air an early-round playoff series and one conference final each year. It also will air four Stanley Cup Final series on ABC during the seven-year deal.  

This deal in the U.S. is huge. More people will watch the NHL more than ever. More people will talk about it on “SportsCenter” and other platforms in the U.S.  The ratings will go up. Casual fans will be more interested in the sport.  

Fans in the U.S. will see superstars such as Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews and others on ESPN during the season. I believe the league will be covered a lot more than ever on ESPN. The network provides the NHL the possibility of increasing its exposure not just because games will be aired, but also via the strength of ESPN sports talk shows such as “First Take” and “Around the Horn.”

 NBCSN is a channel that is hard to find and, according to the Daily Mountain Eagle, is in 80.1 million homes. ESPN is in 83.1 million homes. That 3 million makes a difference in how many more people will be able to watch the NHL on ESPN as opposed to NBCSN.

This deal means so much to the sport of hockey. For the first time in a long time, hockey has an opportunity to become recognized and respected as a top four major professional sport in North America. Sports analysts such as Max Kellerman have publicly stated the NHL is not a top four major sport.  

The sports will be supported by the ESPN family of networks, ESPN+, ESPN.com and NHL.TV. These platforms will generate more fans than the league has had. More people will want to play hockey in the U.S. Social media outlets will buzz more about McDavid than they ever have since McDavid has been in the league. 

The thing about ESPN is that if your sport is not part of the rights on ESPN, they do not cover you as much. The NHL learned that for 17 years when the league was not part of ESPN’s sports. The league finally will be able to have highlights nightly on more platforms more often.  According to statista, since NBC acquired the rights in 2005-06, the Stanley Cup Final ratings have averaged less than a 4.0. The Stanley Cup Final this past year between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars averaged a 1.2 rating, lowest since 2007. When ABC airs the Stanley Cup Final next year, the ratings will go up.  

This was the best decision the league has made in its history. For the NHL to be on ESPN again makes the league accessible to the younger generation. The league will relish this partnership with ESPN.

NBA prospects have shining and struggling moments in March

Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer

AP Photo Courtesy of Paul Sancya

The month of March has always been an exciting time for college basketball fans with the NCAA Tournament, but it’s also the last time for NBA scouts to evaluate the top college prospects in the country. 

March Madness is the perfect time for prospects to prove their worth as the tournament showcases some of the greatest upsets in NCAA history with 7.6 million viewers watching this year, according to the NCAA’s website. While some prospects are continuing to shine under the pressure, others have struggled unexpectedly. 

Cade Cunningham | Oklahoma State University 

As of right now, Cunningham is still the consensus No. 1 draft prospect in the country and is a finalist for the 2021 Naismith Trophy. Cunningham has been looked at as the best prospect in his class since he left Montverde Academy for Oklahoma State in which he played a vital role in putting the Cowboys back on the map in college basketball. 

Ultimately, Cunningham and Oklahoma State had an underwhelming tournament run after getting knocked out of the tournament in the second round by Oregon State University.  In the two games Cunningham played, he averaged 19.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. During those two games, Cunningham struggled to make shots, shooting just over 26 percent from the field and 31 percent from behind the 3-point line. Cunningham’s draft projection hasn’t changed, but his performance showed NBA scouts the flaws in his game. 

Cameron Thomas | Louisiana State University 

Thomas, arguably the best pure scorer in his class and a projected late first-round pick, averaged 28.5 points per game in LSU’s two tournament matchups. The 6-foot-4 freshman guard from Oak Hill Academy turned heads after scoring 30 points against No. 1 seed Michigan despite the loss in the round of 32. 

Thomas certainly helped his draft stock after proving to be an NBA-ready scorer, but he still faces criticism for being one of the worst perimeter defenders in the upcoming draft class. Thomas hasn’t declared for the 2021 NBA Draft just yet as he still remains as one of the more volatile prospects. ESPN currently ranks Thomas at 14 on its top draft prospects list.

Jalen Suggs | Gonzaga

Since the start of Gonzaga’s season, Suggs has risen on every NBA draft big board. Suggs has led his team to be the overall No. 1 team in the country as the Zags remain the favorites to win it all. However, the freshman has struggled to find his shot in the tournament thus far. The freshman combo guard has shot 33 percent from the field and 11 percent from 3 through his first two tournament games but broke out in the Elite Eight with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against Southern Cal. 

Evan Mobley | USC

Mobley and his brother, Isaiah, helped the USC Trojans reach the Elite Eight, including a rout of No. 3 seed Kansas 85-51 in the second round. The 7-foot big man averaged a double-double in points and rebounds through his first two tournament games and finished with 17 points and five rebounds in the Elite Eight loss to Gonzaga. Mobley is currently a projected top-5 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft after showing signs of being the modern-day NBA big man with the ability to shoot and handle around the perimeter. He still has an underdeveloped physical frame, but his ability to protect the rim certainly makes up for it as he’s averaging three blocks per game in the tournament. 

Ayo Dosunmu | Illinois

Outside of Ohio State losing to Oral Roberts, the Fighting Illini’s loss to Loyola Chicago in the second round may have been the biggest shocker. Dosunmu turned the ball over six times in Illinois’ loss and scored only nine points. Despite the loss, the junior combo guard has been one of the better two-way players in the country and has played an integral role in turning Illinois into one of the best teams in college basketball. Like Thomas, Dosunmu’s draft projection is highly volatile and could depend upon the fit, situation and team.

NFL HBCU Combine to feature two from HU

Colangelo Parker | Staff Writer

Courtesy of HU Athletics

All across the sports world, leagues have increased their efforts to highlight the importance of historically Black colleges and universities.

Now the NFL is shining a spotlight on HBCUs.

The inaugural NFL HBCU Combine will be hosted by UAB—the University of Alabama at Birmingham—on April 9 and 10. Draft hopefuls, including Hampton University quarterback Deondre Francois and HU receiver Cortez Lewis, will be able to showcase their skills ahead of the April 29-May 1 NFL Draft.

“I love what the NFL is doing—kudos to them,” said Hampton University football coach Robert Prunty, who played football at Alabama A&M and graduated from that HBCU in 1988. “I think the combine is great! I think it is long overdue. HBCUs continue to put out great players, so it is a great idea by the NFL to have the HBCU combine. [There are] so many good players at HBCUs that get overlooked. I think those young men deserve the opportunity to showcase their talent.”

Francois and Lewis were among 42 players representing 27 HBCUs who were invited and are on track to participate April 9. 

“I’m extremely proud of them both,” Prunty said. “The amount of work those guys have put in to get where they are at is tremendous.”

The HBCU Combine was planned for 2020 but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many pro days last year were canceled as well, leaving draft prospects with limited exposure to NFL scouts.

“We are fully committed to exploring ways to enhance player evaluation for professional football teams and giving every deserving player the opportunity to have his talent assessed by pro scouts,” said Phillip Blackwell, executive director of the HBCU Combine, in an interview with hbcugameday.com.

In the 2020 NFL Draft, there was only one player selected from an HBCU. Tennessee State University offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons was picked No. 227 overall in the seventh round by the Chicago Bears.

The combine event will feature physical drills and tests that will be administered and performed to the NFL Regional Combine regulations. The two-day event also will feature an HBCU Combine Recognition Dinner on April 9. The dinner, featuring guest speaker and HBCU graduate Darryl Orlando Ledbetter, will highlight the legacy of HBCU football.

Stephen A. Smith, host of ESPN’s “First Take” and a Winston-Salem State alumnus, will attend the recognition dinner and provide each player with a travel assistance grant to help reduce traveling costs to the combine.

HU student-athletes reflect on cancellation of spring sports

Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer

Hampton University student-athletes have faced a fair amount of adversity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the cancellation of all 2021 spring sports, HU spring athletes have now forgone two consecutive seasons.

“I was on vacation to hang out with my parents and my friends. We were on Zoom, and we found out we weren’t playing. We were devastated,” junior softball standout Jenae Lyles said when she found out that Hampton was canceling 2021 spring sports. 

In October 2020, Hampton University announced the cancellation of the 2021 spring sports seasons. This decision affected track and field, sailing, softball, tennis, triathlon and lacrosse. 

Lyles was a member of the 2019-20 softball team that had their season cut short due to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, they were not able to finish their season and ended with a record of 15-4. 

Hampton University sophomore tennis player Laura Peralta learned a lot about herself since HU’s cancellation  of spring sports. 

“The thing I learned about myself is that I can do anything, but having two jobs is hard. I had to learn how to do time management,” Peralta said. 

The university has not allowed students on campus since March 2020. The school’s decision to continue virtual learning during the spring semester led to the decision to cancel the 2021 spring sports season. The only HU teams to compete this academic year have been men’s and women’s basketball. 

“[I’ve] been trying to keep up with my training,” junior track and field thrower Nicholas Edwards said. “There are people in the conference that are getting better, and I am at home.”

Hampton track and field won both the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field titles in their first year in the Big South Conference in 2019. Looking to build upon their momentum, HU track and field suffered from yet another season of cancellations due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these athletes have not played in 11 months and are eager to compete. 

“ [I’m] going hard for practice. Not taking hard workouts for granted. Not taking any meet for granted,” senior hurdler Dylan Beard said. “I just want to run my race and be the best at it.”

Even though spring sports are not playing, there is good news to share. The Hampton men’s lacrosse team is joining a conference for the first time. Hampton will be a member of the Southern Conference on July 1. The Pirates are the first men’s HBCU program to join the Southern Conference. They are expected to play in the Spring 2022 season. 

According to ESPN, the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow student-athletes to have an extra year of eligibility when seasons were canceled. The NCAA will extend the eligibility to all spring student-athletes, not just seniors. It will allow schools to expand their rosters beyond current limits of scholarships to account for future recruits and seniors who were expected to graduate. 

This may be an opportunity for spring student-athletes at Hampton to consider an extra year of eligibility. That decision will have to be made by them, but it gives these men and women an opportunity to finish what they started.

NBA All-Star Game to benefit HBCUs

Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer

Jeff Chiu | Associated Press

The NBA announced on NBA.com that the 2021 All-Star Game festivities will be a one-day event March 7 in Atlanta that will benefit HBCUs and COVID-19 relief efforts. 

The All-Star events, which all will take place on that Sunday, look to generate more than $2.5 million to support HBCUs and defenses against COVID-19, according to New York Times reporter Marc Stein. In support of HBCUs, the NBA has partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO) and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity to focus on bringing awareness to HBCUs.  

“I think it’s a good thing to have the NBA support HBCUs,” Hampton University student Joe Wells said. “It brings more awareness to our sports as well.” 

The league plans to highlight the importance of HBCUs while raising awareness around the direct impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. Storytelling and content told by HBCU alumni and students along with special performances from HBCU musical groups will be featured throughout the events, according to the league’s website.

Previous rumors of the 2021 All-Star Game being held sparked controversy across the league as many viewed the game being unnecessary considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I think it’s stupid,” Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox said when asked about the potential All-Star Game in a postgame news conference Feb. 3. “If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the All-Star game back? But obviously money makes the world go ’round.” 

Many players, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, spoke out against the NBA hosting the All-Star Game given the health risks involved, the Associated Press reported. Additionally, the 2021 All-Star Game has been deemed unnecessary by some college basketball players who have undergone similar COVID-19 protocols during their season. 

“They shouldn’t have an all-star game this year,” Hampton University men’s basketball junior Raymond Bethea Jr. said. “It’s been an odd year, and we haven’t had fans or anything.” 

The idea of the All-Star Game being non-mandatory for players voted in is being discussed between the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and the NBA. The possibilities of players being able to opt out of the game to rest for the second half of the season or because of health and safety risks is being discussed.

Additional protocols and safety measures are being taken by the league, which stated in a memo that players will be provided private travel to Atlanta and the creation of a “mini-bubble,” requiring players to always remain in their hotels except to participate in All-Star events. 

“There should be an NBA All-Star Game because it’s not something that people have to go to,” Hampton University men’s basketball guard Davion Warren said. “It’s an option, so if you decide to go, then you know the risk.” 

Usually, the NBA All-Star events would take place over an entire weekend beginning on a Friday, but this season, all events will be held on the same day for the first time in league history. The NBA skills challenge and 3-point contest will take place earlier in the day, with the Slam Dunk competition taking place during halftime of the All-Star Game. The only canceled event for the 2021 NBA All-Star festivities was the annual NBA Celebrity Game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV

Jessica Coleman | Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9 at Raymond James Stadium on February 7 in Tampa, Florida.

The Buccaneers were the first team to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. In the stands were 7,500 vaccinated health care workers, 25,000 fans and 30,000 cardboard cutouts. The stadium appeared to be packed. 

The matchup between Tom Brady, 43, and Patrick Mahomes, 25, established the largest age differential between two starting quarterbacks in Super Bowl history.

Brady threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns, including two to tight end Rob Gronkowski to surpass Joe Montana and Jerry Rice for the most TDs by any QB-receiver combo in postseason history.  Brady won his seventh Super Bowl and earned his fifth Super Bowl MVP.

“I’m not making any comparisons [to my past championships],” Brady said in an interview with CNN. “Being down here and experiencing it with this group of guys is … every year is amazing, and this team is world champions forever.”

  Bruce Arians, 68, became the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl. As diversity and inclusion is a highly controversial topic within the NFL, the Buccaneers exhibited representation in many aspects. Arians, who is white, had a coaching staff of Black coordinators, Black assistant head coaches and two female full-time coaches. The Buccaneers have the most diverse coaching staff in the National Football League. 

“It shows we’re good at our jobs as coaches,” Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “It gives younger people inspiration hopefully to see us as coaches and see that we can be one of these kinds of people and if we put our mind to it, anything is possible.”

Although the Buccaneers are accompanied by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, they were projected as the underdog. Tampa Bay’s journey to Super Bowl LV was a challenge. The Bucs got past the Washington Football Team in a wild card game, the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game. The Buccaneers became the seventh wild card team to win the Super Bowl. 

Brady surpassed his former team, the New England Patriots, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who both won six titles. The Chiefs became the sixth defending champions to lose the Super Bowl.

NFL coaches still lack diversity

Aliyu Saadu | Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Associated Press

There were seven NFL head coaching positions available after the 2020 season, but only two of the people who were subsequently hired were not white. The Houston Texans hired David Culley, who is Black, and the New York Jets hired Robert Saleh, who is Lebanese American. 

Saleh was previously the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets’ hire made him the first Muslim head coach in NFL history.

Culley has been an NFL coach for 27 years. He has served as a wide receiver coach, assistant head coach and quarterback coach for multiple teams throughout the course of his career. 

Even with Culley’s hire, there should be more Black head coaches in the NFL. Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was one of the highly touted head coaching candidates but did not get hired.

In 2003, the NFL introduced the “Rooney Rule,” an NFL policy requiring every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one diverse candidate. Since the creation of the “Rooney Rule,” there have been 22 Black head coaches hired. 

According to the Undefeated, a 2019 study found that minority coaches are likely to be on the “hot seat” 52.4 percent of the time, while their white counterparts are on the hot seat 28.7 percent of the time. Another statistic showed 40 percent of head coaches were former offensive coordinators, and at least 77 percent of coordinators were white.

“There are many outstanding Black men and other men and women of color in the NFL,” said Rod Graves, Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director, in an interview with CBS 4 Boston. “The pipeline is as strong as it has been. The issue is not in the sufficiency of numbers; the problem is in the limited number of leadership opportunities given. The display in opportunities is mind-boggling.”

 The first full-time Black NFL head coach was Art Shell in 1989. There have been only three minority head coaches who have won a Super Bowl.

Author N. Jeremi Duru chronicled the struggle that led to the creation of the “Rooney Rule” in his book, “Advancing the Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL.”

“I’m deeply disappointed,” Duru said in an interview with The Undefeated. “I’m deeply disappointed. I’m deeply disappointed because the NFL, the league spent the offseason truly committed to this issue and, in the end, the owners didn’t seem to move the needle in response to the NFL commitment. The league office is moving in the right direction. The problem, it seems, are individual clubs.”

The NFL says it is trying to address diversity, but all NFL owners are white. Black players are the majority in the NFL, yet teams still do not hire many Black head coaches.

NBA scrambles to combat COVID-19 implications

Cameron Crocheron | Staff Writer

Image via Associated Press

NBA players and staff have an ongoing concern over COVID-19 protocols due to the postponement of 17 games to control the increase of COVID-19 cases and close contact tracing.

“We’ve seen it in the NFL, the NBA and college sports,”  Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone told ESPN. “These are real protocols, and they’re in place for a reason, and hopefully we can learn from it.

“COVID is real. The NBA has consulted with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the best doctors in the country to make sure we are following those protocols and are disciplined.” 

The NBA is taking additional steps needed to enforce stricter guidelines to limit contact among opposing players before games. League officials are positioning team security on the court before and after games to dissuade violations, including hugging and handshakes, according to ESPN.

Although the number of new cases around the league has decreased compared to previous weeks, the NBA is still active in ruling players out for games and postponing games as well.

“There’s no shame with this particular virus,”  Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams told ESPN. “It’s unfortunate that teams are having a few guys here and there popping up, whether they got the virus or contact tracing limiting their potential to play. That’s a tough deal for any team.”

Contact tracing and contractions of the virus have affected some of the NBA’s top players such as Kevin Durant, Michael Porter Jr. and Karl-Anthony Towns, and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was sidelined for a couple of games after being exposed to COVID-19, ESPN reported. 

Throughout the season, teams have had to sit six or more players before upcoming games due to contact tracing. This left teams shorthanded and unable to meet the league’s eight available players requirement.

“Expand the rosters, sign players that are in a pool,” NBA free-agent guard Jamal Crawford said via Twitter. “G- League, vets, whatever, so there are available bodies, games can continue.”

The expansion of team rosters would limit the possibility of them being short-handed in case of an outbreak among players and games would continue as scheduled. G-league players and current free agents such as Crawford would be given opportunities to play at the NBA level.

NBA general managers convened virtually in early January to discuss the possibility of expanding rosters from the current 17 available players with some teams in favor and some not, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. 

While there may not be a basis for criteria that may force the NBA to suspend the season, the league continues to make protocol enhancements. The NBA is expected to play a 72-game season, but due to yet another unprecedented season, there are concerns about whether that will be possible.