Wolves set to depart on 6-game road trip as NBA addresses Coronavirus concerns

The Minnesota Timberwolves practiced Monday before departing for a 10-day, six-game road trip starting Tuesday in Houston, and they’re as aware as anyone of the Coronavirus that has the attention of everyone across the world.

There have been deaths, there have been cancellations of events and sports tournaments across the country are pondering adjustments to avoid spreading the virus. The NCAA has had conversations about what to do with the first and second rounds of March Madness with the upcoming basketball tournament, and on lower levels, games have been held in empty gyms.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said publicly that if the NBA opts to have games closed to fans, he refuses to play. Sports are entertainment, and fans pay good money to watch some of the best athletes in the world.

The Wolves upcoming road trip includes stops in Houston, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Portland, Phoenix and Utah. Wolves coach Ryan Saunders says the team has talked about the virus and what it could mean moving forward.

“The league has a good system in place. I know they’re working around the clock to be prepared for whatever situations come about. Our medical staff and our organization, we meet a lot to be on the same page with things. That’s something that we talked a lot about this morning, and we’ll educate our players,” Saunders said. “It’s nothing to just kind of brush off to the side, this is obviously a very serious thing that we’re dealing with. We’re a group that, in the NBA, obviously you want to be proactive with things.”

The virus has caused officials across different leagues to change their locker room policies, even if it is brief. The NHL is closing locker rooms after games, and holding postgame news conferences in public areas. Similar ideas are under consideration for other sports.

Forward James Johnson, one of the newest additions after a slew of trades for the Wolves, is doing his best to stay focused on basketball.

“We’re being safe about it. Doctor Rob, he’s not even shaking people’s hands so when the doctor is a little bit nervous about things, you tend to take heed but I’m living day to day like I always do,” Johnson said. “I can’t worry about something that might not happen or might.”

The Wolves are 19-44 on the season, which includes an 11-20 mark away from Target Center. They want to play well as they wrap up another disappointing season filled with change, but healthy is the top priority moving forward.