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Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe arrives in Orlando after Covid-19 diagnosis

Less than 24 hours before the start of their first scrimmage in Orlando, the Milwaukee Bucks have landed quite the familiar reinforcement.

Starting Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe joined the squad in Orlando, as confirmed by the Bucks’ very own Twitter account, after previously testing positive for COVID-19, which obviously delayed his initial arrival with the team as they first arrived in Orlando two weeks ago.

For Bledsoe to arrive in Orlando was a big step as that meant producing two consecutive negative tests before he was cleared to join his teammates and the rest of the Bucks’ traveling party. Per the league’s protocol, Bledsoe now must go into quarantine for two days down in Orlando before rejoining his squad in practice sessions.

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That now leaves Pat Connaughton as the only absence for the Bucks going into the restart after he revealed earlier this week that he had also tested positive for COVID-19.

The timeline for Connaughton’s return has yet to be clarified.

While the Bucks wait for Connaughton’s return, the timing of Bledsoe’s arrival really couldn’t have worked out any better for the Bucks as they’re a little over a week out from officially resuming play when they take on the Boston Celtics on July 31.

With his ability to slice into opposing defenses at will while simultaneously offering incredibly strong perimeter defense and check some of the best scoring guards in the league, Bledsoe’s two-way abilities make up a critical component in the Bucks’ formula.

It’s absolutely a refreshing and welcome sight to see Bledsoe rejoin the squad, but also seem happy and healthy following his brush with COVID-19. But the pressure will soon be on Bledsoe and the Bucks overall to finish what they all started.

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Ricky Rubio back with Suns after testing positive

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t join the team in Orlando, Florida, until this week because of a positive COVID-19 test. Rubio said he joined the team two days ago and Tuesday was his first practice.

Phoenix has its first scrimmage on Thursday although it’s unclear if Rubio will play.

“I just had two practices so I have to talk with strength coach, [Suns coach Monty Williams] and the whole team,” Rubio said. “I feel good but we have to be smart about it. It’s a preseason game. We have to figure out a plan that’s day by day. We can’t plan ahead like other times. We didn’t know when I was going to come so we have to play it day by day.”

Rubio did not say when he first tested positive for the virus but did state that it was harder on him because while he was in Phoenix, his family stayed back in Spain. Now, he says he has to be careful with how he ramps back up and gets ready to play once again.

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Williams said he would meet with his staff Wednesday night to determine Rubio’s playing status moving forward.

Rubio, who has been involved with the league’s social justice movement while he has been out and was on a recent league call with Breonna Taylor’s mother and lawyer, also tried to put in focus the NBA’s return to basketball in the current social climate.

“It’s tough but the times we live in right now, we have to adjust to the uncomfortable,” Rubio stated. “The NBA did a really good job of keeping us safe down here. At the end of the day, basketball, right now, it’s not the first thing we’re thinking of when it comes to live. There’s a lot on our plate and everybody’s plate. We have to think for the big picture but we’re here and ready to play.”

Rubio is not the only player who hasn’t been with the team in Orlando. The Suns are without guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque for what the team is calling personal matters. Center Aron Baynes told Stadium that he tested positive for COVID-19 and isn’t with the team yet.

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Short handed Nets reach deal with veteran guard Jamal Crawford

When the Brooklyn Nets boarded their plane out of New York on Tuesday, there were only 12 healthy players on board. But reinforcements are coming. Jamal Crawford is signing with the Nets for the remainder of the season, league sources told ESPN.

Crawford, 40, will fill one of the Nets’ three vacant substitute roster spots. Crawford is qualified to be signed after Brooklyn had three players — Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince — test positive for the coronavirus.

All three have been ruled out for the campaign restart in Orlando, Florida. Wilson Chandler, citing familial obligations, also did not make the trip. The team signed forward Justin Anderson in his place.

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Now the Nets have two roster spots available to be filled.

According to NBA rules, Crawford could fly or drive to Florida. If he hasn’t been tested regularly since June 23 — when the league started testing players every other day — he will need to quarantine and be tested every day for a week in Orlando before he will be eligible to join his new teammates on the court.

Crawford hasn’t played in the NBA in the 2019-20 season. He most recently played for the Phoenix Suns and scored 51 points in the last match he played in 2019. The 20-year veteran has averaged 14.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over the course of his career.

The Nets arrived in Orlando on Tuesday as one of the 22 NBA teams listed to resume games on July 30. They are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic, who currently hold the final playoff spot.

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