Shortly after Sacramento Kings forward Jabari Parker announced Wednesday that he recently tested positive for the coronavirus, The Athletic reported that teammate Buddy Hield also has COVID-19.
The news comes a day after the NBA began Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan, during which time players are required to be tested for coronavirus.
Hield, the Kings’ second-leading scorer at 19.8 points per game, played in 82 games last season and didn’t miss a game this season prior to the league’s shutdown due to the virus. He is one of Sacramento’s key players, having averaged 20.3 points and 41.1 percent 3-point shooting since the start of last season. He also won the league’s 3-point contest during All-Star weekend back in February.
Though neither the team nor Hield confirmed the report, Hield was seen on video earlier this month playing in an adult league in Oklahoma with a gym full of fans.
As for Parker, he said in a statement, “Several days ago I tested positive for COVID-19 and immediately self-isolated in Chicago which is where I remain. I am progressing in my recovery and feeling well. I look forward to joining my teammates in Orlando as we return to the court for the resumption of the NBA season.”
Parker, 25, is with his fifth team in the past three seasons. Earlier this season, he played 32 games for the Atlanta Hawks, making 23 starts and averaging 15 points and six rebounds.
The Hawks traded Parker and center Alex Len to the Kings on Feb. 6 in exchange for center Dewayne Dedmon and two second-round draft picks. Parker appeared in just one game for his new team, finishing with four points and four rebounds against the Grizzlies on Feb. 20. He sat out Sacramento’s last nine games before the NBA season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kings are among the six NBA teams currently outside of a playoff position who will join the 16 currently in postseason positions when the league assembles in early July near Orlando, Fla.
The 22 invited teams will each play eight regular-season games ahead of the postseason, which could include play-in games for the last spot in each conference depending upon how close the ninth-place teams are.
Sacramento (28-36) is 3 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) in the Western Conference standings.
(Field Level Media)