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Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, possibly exposed to virus, will miss the NBA All-Star game

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons stand side by side on court.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons talk during a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 6 in Philadelphia.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have been ruled out of Sunday’s All-Star game in Atlanta because of a coronavirus contact-tracing issue, the league announced about eight hours before tipoff.

Embiid and Simmons are in Atlanta, though it was not immediately clear if they would have to remain there and quarantine or if they could leave and resume their All-Star break elsewhere.

“Prior to traveling to Atlanta, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had contact with an individual who is confirmed today to have tested positive for the coronavirus,“ the league said Sunday.

Embiid would have been a starter for Team Durant, which will be coached by Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers. Simmons would have been a reserve for Team LeBron. The NBA and the 76ers learned of the situation on Saturday night, Rivers said.

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“I would say it’s not looking great,” Rivers said before the final determination was made.

A person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press that the contact was with a barber who was regularly tested for the coronavirus and often worked with Embiid and Simmons. Both Embiid and Simmons saw the barber in recent days before traveling to Atlanta and had continued to test negative, said the person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Sunday because those details were not released publicly.

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In past cases where contact tracing detected an issue, players have been cleared after the subsequent tests on the person suspected to have contracted the virus came back negative.

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“Participation for other all-stars and members of the 76ers coaching staff in Atlanta is not affected,” the NBA said, “because they were not exposed to the individual in Philadelphia.“

The Athletic and ESPN first reported that the status of Embiid and Simmons was in doubt for Sunday’s game.

Many NBA players have missed several days this season after contact tracing issues, which means a player has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. The NBA goes through a process of determining if a player has been exposed; it can take a day or more before determining how long — or if — the player must quarantine and be away from his team.

Philadelphia, which entered the break with the best record in the Eastern Conference, opens the season’s second half on Thursday in Chicago.


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