The NBA is investigating the whereabouts of LA Clippers guard Lou Williams during an excused absence from the league’s Walt Disney World bubble so it can determine the length of his re-quarantining process, the Associated Press reported on Saturday citing a person with knowledge of the matter.
Williams, who was permitted to leave the NBA’s isolated campus setup at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex to attend a family member’s funeral, was photographed at a gentleman’s club in Atlanta on Thursday night by rapper Jack Harlow, who subsequently deleted the shot from his Instagram story.
On Friday, Harlow insisted the photo was taken before this week, tweeting: “That was an old pic of me and Lou. I was just reminiscing cuz I miss him.”
Williams, 33, is wearing an NBA-issued mask in the photo, the sort that is believed to have only been available inside the Disney bubble and would debunk any argument that the photo had been taken previously.
The NBA has a process for determining quarantine length for those who leave the bubble, depending on what people did after they left and if they continued getting daily coronavirus tests. The quarantine period can exceed 10 days if NBA rules are not followed.
ESPN said Williams has admitted to NBA security that he did go to the famed Magic City gentleman’s club in downtown Atlanta for a short time.
“He’s back here. I can tell you that much,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “And, obviously, those got out and that’s something we didn’t enjoy seeing – or like.”
The shooting guard is averaging 18.6 points and 5.7 assists coming off the bench for Los Angeles, who had the second-best record in the Western Conference when the NBA suspended its season on 11 March.
The Clippers open seeding-game play on Thursday against the LA Lakers.
Williams is one of several players who have left the bubble so far for what were described as family reasons, including New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers and Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley.
Williamson, the No 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft, returned to Disney World on Friday night and immediately went back into quarantine. There was no immediate announcement about how long he would remain separated from the Pelicans, but being back now suggests that it is possible he could play when New Orleans faces Utah on Thursday in the first seeding game of the NBA restart.
“My family and I appreciate the love and respect that everyone showed us while we dealt with a private family matter,” Williamson said Friday night in a statement. “I’m excited to rejoin my team in Orlando and look forward to getting back on the court with my teammates after the quarantine.”
Williamson spent eight days outside the bubble. He was tested daily during his absence for Covid-19, and all those tests were negative. That will likely shorten the amount of time he will spend in quarantine.
The NBA and the players union’ said Monday that none of the 346 players tested for Covid-19 returned positive tests over the previous seven days, the most encouraging sign yet the bubble concept is working.
Two players had come up positive during the first week on campus out of 322 tested, including Rockets star Russell Westbrook. Another 19 had tested positive during in-market testing that began on 1 July before the teams headed to central Florida.
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