Chris Paul has been an integral facet of the Phoenix Suns‘ success this season and during their playoff run. However, his ability to continue contributing to their magical run is now in grave danger, as the star guard has entered into health and safety protocols due to COVID-19.

The only bright spot for Phoenix in this disheartening situation is that Paul is vaccinated, meaning that his timetable for return might be substantially shorter than players who are unvaccinated.

Head coach Monty Williams briefly discussed Paul’s absence, keeping a brief and optimistic tone. “We just have to wait and see what’s going to happen,” Williams told the media.

The primary question surrounds what exactly Paul has been diagnosed with. Players have been forced to miss weeks of competition for a positive COVID-19 test. Conversely, they have missed just days for contact tracing.

If Paul did test positive for COVID-19, he will undoubtedly want to see if he can return via the league’s test-based method of reinstatement (as opposed to using a time-based return, which requires waiting at least 10 days from the first positive test). The test-based path requires two negative PCR tests, each taken at least 24 hours apart from one another. Paul would still be required to undergo a cardiac screening once he returns to any sort of physical exertion, as per the NBA’s protocols.

Coach Williams has truly placed these obstacles in their proper context regarding the fight in the Suns as a team. “We’ve had obstacles all season long and gotten through a lot of stuff,” he said. “You look forward to these challenges, you embrace them, and you move forward.”

Paul’s next evaluation will be Saturday, which will likely determine if he will be allowed to suit up for any of his team’s Western Conference final games.

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