Quarterfinals set as NBA 2K Players Tournament heats up

The quarterfinals for the NBA 2K Players Tournament – a partnership between the league and NBA 2K being held since the actual season was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic – is now set after four more contests were staged Sunday.  

Moving on: Montrezl Harrell, who beat Domantas Sabonis; Rui Hachimura, who beat Donovan Mitchell; Devin Booker, who beat Michael Porter Jr.; and Andre Drummond, who beat DeMarcus Cousins. The four players join the four others who moved on in competition Friday night. 

Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers) and Sabonis (Indiana Pacers) became the first players in the tournament to use their actual teams. But Harrell proved to be a better player than Sabonis, who nonetheless was self-deprecating and a good sport throughout his 73-51 loss. 

Sabonis joked that "they got to skip through our game" when the first quarter ended with Harrell up just 14-8. He also quipped that the game was rigged when virtual teammate Myles Turner was slow running back in transition. He eventually proposed late in the game that "if I get (the deficit) down to 10, I win." 

“He sucks! He really sucks!” – Domantas Sabonis after he shoots with HIMSELF as he faces off against Montrezl Harrell on 2K 🤣😭 pic.twitter.com/ntzX7PXRaB

The matchup with Hachimura, a rookie for the Washington Wizards, and Mitchell, the Jazz star who was among the NBA players publicly diagnosed with COVID-19 – from which he's since recovered – was the closest of the tournament to date. Hachimura, using the Lakers, edged Mitchell, using the Nets, 74-71. Mitchell had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but it wouldn't go.  

A thrilling finish to Donovan Mitchell’s @spidadmitchell NBA 2K game against the Rui Hachimura, but Donovan’s Brooklyn Nets team loses by 3 to Hachimura’s Lakers and he is out of the tournament. pic.twitter.com/UlUgT8F3MY

Rui Hachimura got his own waterboy for the #NBA2KTourney 😂 pic.twitter.com/PLpswVSFDr

In a competitive contest, Booker outlasted Porter Jr. 85-75. Porter had selected the Lakers, which made Booker – a noted fan of video games, particularly first-person shooters – pick the Bucks.   

The final contest was a rout, as Drummond (using the Lakers) crushed Cousins (using the Nets), 101-49.

There was a moment of levity, though, when Alex Caruso came up. The Lakers guard, who was a teammate of Cousins' this year prior to the big man's release – Cousins was injured and did not play for L.A. – has become a cult hero of sorts in Los Angeles, and Drummond asked about him.

"A.C. the GOAT," Cousins replied.  

Boogie said Caruso’s the 🐐 @ACFresh21#NBA2KTourneypic.twitter.com/cCSjN4E4ci

The quarterfinal matchups, with each player's seeding (which was determined by their NBA 2K rating; if ratings were the same, tenure in league was used): 

Derrick Jones Jr. (16) vs. Montrezl Harrell (8)

Devin Booker (5) vs. Rui Hachimura (13) 

Trae Young (2) vs. Deandre Ayton (10)

Andre Drummond (6) vs. Patrick Beverley (14)  

The winner of the tournament will receive $100,000 to donate to a charity connected to coronavirus relief efforts. The quarterfinals, which remain single elimination, kick off Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.  

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ESPN to fill airtime with classic Monday Night Football games

The coronavirus pandemic has brought live sports to a halt, leaving networks to dig into the archives to fill the airtime void. 

The next five weeks, ESPN will fill its Monday prime-time slot with classic offerings from Monday Night Football, the network announced Friday. 

Re-airs begin this Monday, March 30, at 8 p.m. and will continue at that time weekly through April 27. 

The series kicks off with the Rams' 54-51 win against the Chiefs in 2018, the highest-scoring contest in Monday Night Football history. 

The April 6 date will show the Saints' first game at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, a 2006 contest most memorable for Steve Gleason's blocked punt. 

On April 13, the network will show the first meeting between Brett Favre and his former Packers team at the Vikings' Metrodome in 2009. 

The final two weeks feature a Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, Colts-Patriots showdown from 2005 (Manning's first victory in Foxborough), as well as a dramatic Cowboys win against the Bills in 2007. 

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How NBA players are handling mental health issue during coronavirus crisis

The memo started by acknowledging a sobering reality.

The NBA players union predicted players, like many people around the world, would feel a “range of emotions” surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The suspension of the season and subsequent social-distancing directives from public-health experts could induce "anxiety, panic, fear, uncertainty, confusion, feeling blindsided, hypervigilance, depression, sadness, mourning, an increased sense of vulnerability, boredom, and a heightened awareness of the needs for self-care.”

“The intensity of the above emotions will vary across time between high, medium and low,” the memo read.

Because of those concerns, the NBA and the players union are trying to help players with their mental health during these uncertain times.

Arenas in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere have been shuttered since the NBA shut down on March 11. (Photo: Leah Stauffer, USA TODAY Sports)

The NBA stopped play March 11 after Utah center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the league to remind players and staff member about the continued access they have to counselors. The NBPA’s director of mental health and wellness, William Parham, and player wellness counselor, Keyon Dooling, have had daily phone and texting conversations with players. Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love filmed a PSA as part of his efforts the past two years to speak about his struggles with anxiety and depression.

A message from @kevinlovepic.twitter.com/fS05sY0aVu

“There are reactions there that are very important and very real. But we also try to get across the message that embedded in every tragedy are opportunities for growth,” Parham told USA TODAY Sports. “We do believe in a mantra that stars shine their brightest at the darkest part of night.”

The outreach to players started years before the current global crisis. 

For instance, beginning in 2015, the league has made a clinical psychologist available to players and staff. In May 2018, the NBPA began its own mental health and wellness program. Before the 2019-20 season, the NBA required that all teams provide players with access to licensed, clinical mental health professionals.

Metta World Peace, Royce White, DeMar DeRozan, Blake Griffin, Justise Winslow, Kelly Oubre, Jay Williams, Markelle Fultz, Paul Pierce, Dooling and Love are among the former and current NBA players who have publicly shared their struggles and triumphs with mental health.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver observed during last year’s MIT Sloan Conference that "a lot of these young men are genuinely unhappy."

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“I don’t necessarily think guys are unhappy all the time. But there is trauma that guys experience, phobias that guys and insecurities (our) guys have just like everybody else in society,” Dooling said. “That’s where mental wellness comes into play. You have to work on those things so you can get better and live a happier and better life.”

But the NBA and players union’s latest efforts with mental health arguably bear the most significance.

“This coronavirus has hit our league very, very hard,” Dooling told USA TODAY Sports. “We’re just like everybody else trying to figure it out and make sure that we support each other through this trying time.”

Players are constantly nursing anxieties over performance, trade rumors, injuries or their personal life. This season, they have also anguished over the death of former NBA Commissioner David Stern and former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

In recent weeks, players have had concerns about their own health after at least 10 active players tested positive for COVID-19. They have stressed about staying physically fit and being confined to their homes. And, like many Americans, players are worried about when they can return to work and possible financial ramifications.

That has led the NBPA to take additional steps since the season was suspended. For example, Dooling and Parham said they plan to organize video-conference meetings with players beginning this week. The union has also offered players a database with links to mental health and wellness programs and has stressed the need to follow social-distancing guidance.

Yolanda Bruce Brooks, a clinical and sports psychologist who once consulted with the Dallas Cowboys, has spoken with an unspecified number of NBA players before and after the season was suspended. Eric Kussin, founder of SameHere Global Health Movement, hosted a webinar on Tuesday about mental health issues with sports business executives. Love revealed on his Instagram account that he consulted with Michelle Craske, a UCLA professor of psychology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences.

“It's important to know that those with a mental illness may be vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat,” Love wrote in an Instagram post. “Be kind to one another. Be understanding of their fears, regardless if you don't feel the same.”

Love said that Craske gave other tips. She advised Love to limit how often he uses his phone and television and to only seek trusted news sources once or twice a day. She encouraged him to consistently eat nutritious food and drink water. She suggested to carve out time both to talk with friends and family on the phone, meditate and perform slow-breathing exercises.

In his memos and conversations, Parham said he has given “concrete strategies for managing anxieties, frustrations, boredom and uncertainty.”

Parham has encouraged players to study film and has suggested players “invest in their relational capital” by embracing the increased family time. Parham has stressed that players keep a routine with their sleeping and meals, and even spend time learning how to cook now that they don't have meals provided by chefs and their teams.

“We have little to no control over what happens to us,” Parham said. “But we have 100 percent control over how we respond to the challenges in front of us.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports NBA reporter Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

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As challenges loom for college athletics because of coronavirus, question becomes: Is the party over?

The American economic boom of the last decade has gone hand-in-hand with a fundamental change in the financial reach of college athletics. Beyond the obvious growth areas like television revenue and the College Football Playoff, which helped fuel an exponential rise in coaching salaries, athletic departments became much more sophisticated at getting their fans to part with large amounts of money.  

As the stock market roared and businesses thrived, schools climbed over each other to promote hotshot fundraisers into athletic director jobs, launch eight- and nine-figure facilities projects, endow coaching positions and reorient their stadiums toward amenities and premium experiences.

But the looming economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has raised a question that athletic departments of all sizes are scrambling to assess: Is the party over?

Will college football stadiums be this packed in the fall and will donors come back in full force? Athletic directors are wondering about the impact of coronavirus. (Photo: Stephen Lew, USA TODAY Sports)

“One of the byproducts we’re facing is people who have lost 25 or 30% of their net value of their portfolio or their retirement funds, that’s going to have some impact on us,” said Utah State athletic director John Hartwell, who finished a $36 million project in 2016 that added 24 luxury suites and more than 700 premium seats to the Aggies’ football stadium. “You could have someone who was buying a suite and 10 club seats but may say, hey I don’t need those extra seats anymore. I think we all have to be prepared for that, but we’re trying to be as proactive as we can. We’re making sure we try to touch base with all of our donors to keep them engaged.”

Since the March 12 announcement that the NCAA men's basketball tournament had been canceled and colleges across the country were basically shutting down for the semester, the volume of questions and issues athletic directors have been dealing with is almost immeasurable.

The immediate action items like getting athletes back home and suspending off-campus recruiting took precedence. There are dozens more that remain unresolved such as how the NCAA will deal with freshman eligibility when ACT and SAT testing centers are currently shut down.

But at the moment, the medium- and long-term thinking of many athletic directors is focused on two overlapping tracks: Is a normal, 12-game football season going to start on time, and how does the potential for a deep recession change an industry that has relied on individual donors and local and regional businesses to buy season tickets and donate money for the locker room waterfalls and sleeping pods that have fueled an arms race in college athletics?

The first part of that equation contains too many unknowns to reasonably untangle. As one administrator at a high-revenue-generating program acknowledged, internal budget modeling has started to take place about a “very different fall,” which could mean anything from a shortened season with loss of home game revenue to a delayed season to games played without fans. The administrator spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on behalf of the athletic department. 

All kinds of models for an altered season have been drafted by athletic departments that illustrate how important it is from a revenue standpoint the football season is played in one form or another. 

Another administrator mentioned potential layoffs or significant cuts if loss of football revenue reached 15% or 20% of the budget.

"We're working budgets that have us staying flat or (experiencing) a 10% reduction, a 20% reduction because we just don't know," said Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek, who said ticket sales in football, basketball and baseball make between $40 million and $45 million of a $125 million budget. 

But what the season eventually looks like is largely out of their hands at the athletic department level and instead will be driven by how well the COVID-19 spread is contained, how comfortable college presidents are with opening up their campuses and how conference offices and the College Football Playoff coordinate potential structural changes to the season.

Assuming football is played this fall, television revenue gives college sports something of a backstop. The power conferences this year will distribute to their members anywhere from $33 million on the low end (Pac-12) to $54 million (Big Ten) at the apex, and television demand for college football is likely to be sky high after a spring and potentially a summer without live sports. 

But whether fans will be immediately comfortable crowding back into 70,000-seat stadiums – and whether their financial situations will allow them to buy tickets – is another matter altogether. Making the calculation even more complicated is that the time to collect money for those season ticket packages is typically right now, when the amount of economic uncertainty for millions of people has rarely been higher.

In recent days, schools have rolled out a variety of plans to delay or spread out payments for tickets. Just Tuesday, Baylor extended its season ticket renewal period to April 15, and Arkansas moved the deadline for Razorback Foundation pledges by a week to April 6. 

Yurachek said Arkansas' renewal rate had already reached 84% of a 90% goal and that  officials were hoping the extra time would help the last group trickle in after many fans spent the last two weeks worrying more about family issues or transitioning to work at home. 

Several athletic directors said they expect to lose some ticket holders but, like Arkansas, the year-over-year tracking numbers haven’t collapsed yet. 

“We moved our due date from April 15 to May 15 and we’ve allowed fans to extend their payoffs so they don’t have to do it all at once, and we’re trying to do some of those things now just to give folks flexibility,” Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor said. “People are still buying season tickets. I think we sold 1,000 in renewals and new purchases last week, and this week it was more like 500. But it’s possible someone who is on the edge of being able to afford a season ticket might take a break and become a single-game buyer. We haven’t sat down and fiscally planned this out, but we could end up projecting a 5% or 10% reduction even if we’re coming back to normal.” 

At the same time, though, Taylor acknowledged that fundraising for a $105 million capital campaign project announced last September, including stadium upgrades and premium seating, a new volleyball arena and an Olympic sports training center, would slow if there’s a major recession. Kansas State already had $76 million committed to the project but won’t be soliciting those gifts until the economic picture becomes more clear. Instead, Taylor said, the focus will be on maintaining individual contact with donors, asking them to “hang in there with us.” 

Wren Baker, athletic director at North Texas, said he’s also directed his staff to “double down” on contacts with donors, including handwritten thank-you notes and personal phone calls from coaches.

However, Baker acknowledged that a long-planned fundraising project to expand the school’s athletic center was on hold indefinitely.

“I can get to a place where I think it’s still important to us (to fund-raise for) student-athlete scholarships, especially if we don’t have revenues coming in,” Baker said. “But making an appeal for brick-and-mortar in this environment doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to do when you know millions of people have lost their jobs since this all started. There are more worthwhile causes than building a building. When this is over and the economy starts to come back, there’s a time and place to pick that up. But I don’t think I could even look at someone with a straight face and ask them to help us build a building today.”

In a sense, college athletics is no different other sports and entertainment businesses, all of which will face various levels of uncertainty in the post-coronavirus pandemic world. But what made college athletics different, particularly in the last several years, is how much of its growth was fueled by philanthropy and invested in luxuries that were primarily designed to appeal to recruits. 

But from the very top of the sport to the bottom, the availability of those revenue streams are being challenged in ways that even administrators who went through the 2008 financial crisis are unsure how to assess. 

“Even back then, you knew there was an endgame,” Hartwell said. “History told you the market is going to turn back up, stay the course. But this encompasses people’s financial health, their physical health and, in some cases, mortality. It’s a whole different ballgame. There’s just so much uncertainty still out there that we can’t quantify. We can all guess, but until the health risks have subsided we can't really come up with scenarios that have meat to them. And in the meantime we control what we can control.”

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Dallas Stars executives Jim Lites and Jim Nill take 50% pay cut to help team employees

As NHL teams begin laying off workers or cutting pay because of the uncertainty of the length of the coronavirus shutdown, one team's management corps is taking another strategy.

Dallas Stars president Jim Lites and general manager Jim Nill took a voluntary 50% pay cut, according to ESPN.

"We're just looking to help somebody else," Nill told the network. "Jim and I are very fortunate. The game's been great to us. But within our organization, we have a lot of younger people working who live paycheck to paycheck. We hope this is something that can help them down the road."

Pittsburgh Penguins executives David Morehouse and Jim Rutherford earlier took undisclosed pay cuts, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. 

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi and billionaire father Bob run Northland Properties, but Nill noted that the business is involved in hotels and restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

“The Gaglardis have been really good to us, they’ve always said yes to us on things we’ve needed to do to build the franchise," Lites told The Dallas Morning News. "I feel a personal thanks to them, they’ve been really good to both of us.”

Uncertainty remains about when sports can resume as coronavirus cases increase.

The NHL paused the season on March 12 and recently told players and staff to remain in self-isolation until April 6. Wednesday, the NHL postponed the scouting combine, draft and NHL Awards show, which were scheduled for June.

The Boston Bruins are among teams with cutbacks, with Delaware North announcing that starting April 1, 68 full-time salaried employees at the team and TD Garden will go on temporary leave and another 82 will have their pay cut.

The Montreal Canadiens are doing temporary layoffs, too, and have set up an assistance fund for affected workers. 

Nill told ESPN that the Stars are still discussing finances and staffing. 

"But we felt that if we got ahead of this ourselves, maybe that helps out that part of it," he said.

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MLB and players’ union moving closer to agreement; season could extend into late November

Major League Baseball and the players union are close to reaching an agreement on critical economic issues with hopes of salvaging the majority of the 162-game season, according to an MLB executive with knowledge of the negotiations, even if it means playing the World Series in late November.

The executive spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The deal, which could be announced as early as Thursday — when opening day was originally scheduled — would include a commitment from MLB and the players to play close to a full regular-season schedule as possible, providing the COVID-19 crisis dissipates and permits them to even start a season.

The two sides would like to play at least 100 games, scheduling regular-season games through October and including weekly doubleheaders. They have also discussed the idea of expanding the current playoff format to help offset the loss of income, while acknowledging that if cold weather becomes an issue in November, they could move the World Series and playoff series from cold-weather cities to a neutral site.

Mr. November: Derek Jeter of the Yankees. (Photo: Roberto Borea, AP)

The biggest issue in negotiations has been service time, which is close to reaching a resolution for a truncated season. The two sides are near agreement that if there’s a season of any length, players would receive credit for a full year as if it was a regular 162-game season, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

This would permit players such as Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts, and marquee starting pitchers Trevor Bauer of the Cincinnati Reds and Marcus Stroman of the New York Mets, to still achieve free agency after the 2020 season. In turn, it would provide teams clarity with players on long-term contracts, who don’t want bloated contracts on their books longer than necessary.

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They have yet to reach an agreement on whether players would still be credited a full year or partial year if the entire season was cancelled. Betts has five years and 70 days of major-league service time, and is 102 days shy of becoming a free agent. Could he become a free agent without playing a single game for the Dodgers? And if no service time was provided for a lost season, would the Detroit Tigers now be paying Miguel Cabrera $32 million annually through 2024, when he’ll be 41 years old?

Teams have also pledged to pay players on 40-man rosters a lump sum of $150 million in upfront money in April, which The Athletic first reported, which would average about $125,000 per player, based on a sliding scale with players’ contracts. Players are scheduled to receive their first paychecks on April 15, and if the season resumes, would be paid on a pro-rated scale based on how many games are played.

In the meantime, clubs have also promised their full-time employees that they will continue to receive their salary through April 30 with no layoffs. Yet, several employees say they have received a warning letter from their club, which gives a 60-day notice on potential mass layoffs.

Major League Baseball’s best hope is to start the season around June 1, and no later than July 1, simply picking up the original schedule when it resumes, but are following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Once teams are given permission to start working out again, it’s quite possible that instead having their teams return to their spring-training sites for a minimum of two weeks, players will work out at their team’s own home ballparks, reducing further expenses, and expediting the start before the new opening day. Teams likely will open the season with expanded rosters for the first month as well, and instead of having 26-man rosters, increasing to as many as 30 players.

It remains unknown how long Major League Baseball and the union would be willing to play with no fans permitted in the stands, how they would adjust the unplayed schedule to make it equitable for all teams, if there’ll still be an amateur draft or truncated version, and how minor leaguers will be paid.

Those questions can wait, but for now the two sides are hoping to make an announcement on what was scheduled to be the opening day of the 2020 season that they have reached an agreement on several critical economic issues, and praying there still will be an opening day sometime this summer.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

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Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns reveals his mother is battling COVID-19

Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns revealed in a video posted to Instagram early Wednesday that his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, is in a medically-induced coma and connected to a ventilator due to COVID-19.

Towns said that both his father and mother felt ill, then went to the hospital to get checked out and tested for the novel coronavirus. While his father, Karl Towns Sr., was eventually released from the hospital, Towns' mother wasn't allowed to leave as her condition got worse.

"Both of (my parents) have gotten (coronavirus) tests. Both of them didn't get the results for a long time," Towns said in the Instagram video. "We all assumed my mom had COVID-19 due to the symptoms that she was exhibiting, and she was deteriorating daily."

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View this post on Instagram

Sharing my story in the hopes that everyone stays at home! We need more equipment and we need to help those medical personnel on the front lines. Thank you to the medical staff who are helping my mom. You are all the true heroes! Praying for all of us at this difficult time.

A post shared by Karl-Anthony Towns (@karltowns) on

"WE CAN BEAT THIS, BUT THIS IS SERIOUS AND WE NEED TO TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION," Towns wrote on his Instagram post. "Sharing my story in the hopes that everyone stays at home! We need more equipment and we need to help those medical personnel on the front lines. Thank you to the medical staff who are helping my mom. You are all the true heroes! Praying for all of us at this difficult time."

Last week, Towns announced that he planned to donate $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic to help with testing patients for the coronavirus. The Timberwolves said in a statement that the Mayo Clinic expects Towns' donation to help increase its testing capacity from 200 to 1,000 tests per day "in the coming weeks." 

Towns is a two-time All-Star and was in his fifth season with the Timberwolves when the NBA season was shut down after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

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NBA players who have tested positive for coronavirus

The positive coronavirus test of the Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert prompted the NBA to shut down indefinitely and served as a tipping point as other sports organizations followed by either postponing or canceling events.

Other NBA players have followed with positive COVID-19 tests since Gobert's revelation. Here's a look at the announced positive coronavirus tests around the NBA:

Boston CelticsMarcus Smart announced on Twitter his positive coronavirus test on March 19. He also had a message for a certain segment of the population: "The younger generation in our country MUST self distance. This is not a joke."

Brooklyn NetsKevin Durant said he was one of four Nets players who had tested positive for the coronavirus on March 17. Durant spoke with The Athletic, saying he feels fine: "Everyone be careful, take care of yourself and quarantine. We're going to get through this."

Denver Nuggets — A member of the Nuggets organization tested positive for the coronavirus on March 19, the team said in a statement. It is not immediately clear whether the person is a player, but the team said the person was tested on March 16 after “experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.” 

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Detroit PistonsChristian Wood tested positive for coronavirus, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports on March 14. Wood was the first non-Utah Jazz player to test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Los Angeles Lakers — The team announced on March 19 that two players had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. A majority of the players had the tests conducted March 18 outside the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, California.

Philadelphia 76ers — The 76ers revealed on March 19 that three members of their organization tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The Sixers said the tests, which were "secured and processed privately," were recommended for certain individuals after consultation with medical experts and the NBA. 

Utah JazzRudy Gobert's positive coronavirus test on March 11 forced the NBA to postpone its season. A day later, Donovan Mitchell tested positive.

Follow USA TODAY Sports on Twitter @usatodaysports.

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Two Los Angeles Lakers players test positive for coronavirus

Two players on the Los Angeles Lakers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the team announced Thursday. 

A majority of the players had the tests conducted Wednesday outside the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo, California. The team had made the tests available for players after four members of the Brooklyn Nets, who the Lakers played one day before the suspension of the season, tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Lakers said the decision to test was recommended by the team's physicians and public health officials. The two players who tested positive are asymptomatic, per the team, and in quarantine. 

"All players and members of the Lakers staff are being asked to continue to observe self-quarantine and shelter at home guidelines, closely monitor their health, consult with their personal physicians and maintain constant communication with the team," the Lakers wrote in a statement.

"The health and well-being of our players, our organization, our fans and all those potentially impacted by this situation is paramount. As always, we appreciate the support of our fans, family and friends, and wish everyone affected by this virus a speedy recovery."

Opinion: NBA teams getting tested for coronavirus could backfire on league in long run

Earlier Thursday, three members of the Philadelphia 76ers organization and a member of the Denver Nuggets organization were revealed to have tested positive, and the Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart tweeted that he ha.  

Contributing: Mark Medina

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MLB announces plans to pay minor leaguers through at least April 8

With the rest of spring training canceled and the start of the baseball season on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak, Major League Baseball is taking steps to ease some of the financial pressure on its minor leaguers. 

MLB announced a league-wide initiative on Thursday that will pay minor leaguers what they would have earned through April 8, the original start date of the minor league season. 

According to a news release, MLB also "intends to continue working with all 30 clubs to identify additional ways to support those players" because of the delayed start of the 2020 regular season.

St. Louis Cardinals minor league players leave the team's spring training clubhouse in Jupiter, Fla., on March 13 as operations were shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Julio Cortez, AP)

MLB teams have already pledged $1 million each to aid stadium workers throughout the major leagues who are losing wages because of games not being played. 

However, the minor leaguers find themselves in a particularly difficult situation because they have to stay in shape and be ready to return to their clubs when notified. But because they're still under contract, they're not allowed to file unemployment claims while they're not working.

MLB's plan doesn't account for what will happen beyond April 8. However, league and team officials are continuing to discuss a plan to compensate minor leaguers from that point until the regular season begins.

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