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NBA restart update: Three New Orleans players tested positive for coronavirus, but David Griffin expects all Pelicans to be available for Orlando trip

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In some welcome news, Zion Williamson’s ball-handling and shooting are showing signs of improvement

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

On a Zoom conference call this morning, David Griffin announced to media that three New Orleans Pelicans tested positive for the coronavirus on the NBA’s initial day of testing at the start of Phase 2.

While the executive vice president of basketball operations didn’t reveal the names of the infected players due to HIPAA Privacy law, Andrew Lopez of ESPN confirmed that the three cases were a part of the 16 positive cases among the 302 players tested report by Adrian Wojnarowski.

Despite the three cases, no Pelicans player has tested positive since June 23rd. Griffin also added that he has an expectation of the whole roster being available for the restart of the 2019-20 season, including Jrue Holiday.

In a powerful Players’ Tribune article which touched on their own experiences with systemic racism, Lauren Holiday let it be known that she is pregnant with the couple’s second child; however, this, the Black Lives Matter movement nor the rise in numbers from the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to deter Jrue from joining the Pelicans in Orlando.

As for Alvin Gentry, he remains in limbo. The Pelicans head coach has long maintained a position of wanting to go with the team to Walt Disney World’s NBA campus, but at this time, he has no guarantees of being allowed to make the trip.

Griffin stated that he and GM Trajan Langdon will accompany the New Orleans travel party to Orlando, but he was not able to divulge further details regarding the rest of the staff. For instance, with three players infected, the situation remains very fluid. Those players are currently self-isolating and must turn in several negative coronavirus test results before being allowed to participate in any activity again.

Now for some really good news. In addition to previous glowing reports about his level of conditioning during the suspension of play, Griffin disclosed today that Zion Williamson’s skills have shown improvement in recent individual practice sessions.

Williamson has averages of 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, to go along with a sparkling 58.9 FG%, through the first 19 professional games of his career, but sentiment keeps growing that Zion may be ready to take that next step once the games resume late next month.

The Pelicans are scheduled to fly to Orlando on July 8th. Provided those infected heal quickly, no one else contracts the disease, the league office allows all staff over the age of 65 or older, and nothing else arises for any expected traveling member between now and that date, New Orleans could realistically have their most optimal cast for the eight “seeding” games.

In what’s expected to be a tight Western Conference race for the eighth seed despite the Memphis Grizzlies starting play with a marked advantage, the Pelicans appear to be in good position to make some noise.