Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
Pacers in protocols: Keeping tabs on how the team has been impacted by Covid-19
A full list of when players and coaches both entered and exited the protocols.
It was almost a month ago when COVID-19 really started to hit the Pacers.
About 10 days after Justin Holiday became the first player to test positive this season, head coach Rick Carlisle didn’t feel right during their win over New York. He felt different, had a headache and wanted to take a rapid test after the game. So he did and it came back positive. A subsequent PCR test confirmed the result.
Soon after, several coaches also entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. And then after Christmas, as the NBA suspected, it hit the roster of the Pacers and many other teams. As of this writing, 11 Pacers players have entered protocols and missed time, usually about four games.
Right after Christmas, the NBA resumed daily testing for the next few weeks due to increased exposure as family and friends visit. On top of that, the omicron variant is rapidly spreading and decimating rosters across the league.
It hit the Pacers hard to end 2021 with eight players simultaneously in the protocols. And so the front office had to work quickly as an outbreak negatively impacted the team and simply who was available.
“This is a virus and situation that is constantly changing,” Carlisle said in late December.
“If you go through this for a 10-day period, you learn about cycle counts and things like that. You learn that all of that stuff is really all over the place as well. A high cycle count is eventually what you want to have so that you can leave the protocols.
“I just think we’ve all got to be very attentive to what the protocols are; there’s a reason they are what they are. There’s a lot of opinions about just changing and going to herd immunity and all those kinds of things. Maybe that will be the correct way to go, it’s hard to say. And I certainly don’t have any kind of opinion that would relevant on that.”
When Holiday and Carlisle were in quarantine, they were required to be there for 10 days and then test negative twice 24 hours apart. Following the advice of the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the isolation period was shortened to five days but they still had to test out of it.
And as Carlisle mentioned, viral load and cycle counts have become a critical measuring stick. If an individual’s count — which evaluates how contagious one is — is above 30, they are cleared to return. (The lower the count, the more contagious one is.)
I even got the virus myself for the first time at Christmas and had to miss three games. Those fancy PCR were not available to me so I didn’t get details like cycle count and the specific Covid variant. I used the hard-to-find home tests and detailed my experience here.
Carlisle met his wife, Dr. Donna Nobile, when he was in Indianapolis the first time. She was an infectious disease specialist at Riley Hospital for Children. So I was curious how much Carlisle had been leaning on his wife, who is now retired, to learn about the evolving virus.
“Well, to the extent that any doctor can explain what’s going on,” he replied. “It’s a virus that has so many different characteristics, just in terms of what cycle counts look like and whether you have symptoms, whether you don’t have symptoms. Some people test out of it much quicker than others and yet two different people that are going through very different situations with cycle counts and testing in and out can feel exactly the same.
“She’s following a lot of the stuff that’s going on and she’s still very close with some people that she worked with here.”
All coaches, staff members and game officials are fully vaccinated, as required by the NBA. There are approximately three percent of players who are not, including Justin Holiday.
Below is my database of when members of the Pacers entered and exited the protocols. The dates are not official. It will be updated daily.
Jeremy Lamb: Dec. 29 — Jan. 4 | Four games
Malcolm Brogdon: Dec. 30 — Jan. 4 | Four games
Chris Duarte: Dec. 30 — Jan. 5 | Four games
Isaiah Jackson: Dec. 30 — Jan. 9 | Five games
Kelan Martin: Dec. 31 — TBD (waived by team on Jan. 6)
Caris LeVert: Jan. 2 — Jan. 11 | Five games
Goga Bitadze: Jan. 2 — Jan. 11 | Five games
T.J. Warren: Jan. 2 — Jan. 12 | (Has not played all season - left foot surgery.)
Torrey Craig: Jan. 7 — Jan. 9 | One game
Justin Anderson : Jan 7 — TBD (10-day contract expired on Jan. 11)
T.J. McConnell: Jan. 19 — Jan. 26 | Four games
Domantas Sabonis: Jan. 31 — Feb. 6 | Three games
Rick Carlisle: Dec. 8 — Dec. 19 | Four games
Jenny Boucek: Dec. 12 — Dec. 23 | Four games
Mike Weinar: Dec. 23 — Dec. 29 | Two games
Lloyd Pierce: Dec. 29 — Jan. 7 | Five games
Calbert Cheaney: Jan. 9 — Jan. 17 | Three games
Ronald Nored: Jan. 31 — TBD
Zach Chu: Dec. 10 — Dec. 20 | Four games
Dylan DeBusk: Jan. 8 — Jan. 17 | Four games
Josh Corbeil: Jan. 12 — Jan. 22 | Five games
Josh Conder: Jan. 14 — Jan. 24 | Five games