- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 20, 2021

After having their last five games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Washington Wizards returned to practice Thursday with eight healthy players. Coach Scott Brooks said the team’s practice was “very light” given the time off.

Washington’s return to on-court work puts the Wizards on track to play in Friday’s game at Milwaukee — though star Bradley Beal and Brooks expressed skepticism whether that outing should be played.

Under the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, a team must have a minimum of eight healthy players available to play a game. The Wizards are just meeting that standard — with six players in the league’s health and safety protocols. 

Those six are: guard Troy Brown Jr., forward Rui Hachimura, forward Davis Bertans, forward Deni Avdija, guard Ish Smith and center Moritz Wagner.  If those players are deemed to have COVID-19, then they can’t return for at least 10 days since their first positive test. 

The Wizards will also be without guard Russell Westbrook for Friday’s game as the former MVP is still dealing with a quad injury.

As of now, Washington is set to fly to Milwaukee on Thursday. But in speaking with reporters, Beal said the Wizards are “fighting” having to have the NBA push the contest back. 

Beal said he and Westbrook would speak with union executive director Michele Roberts to get further information on what the players could do to prolong their return. Washington hasn’t played since Monday, Jan. 11.

“We weren’t able to get in the gym for over a week,” Beal said. “That alters guys rhythm, shape — that’s just a recipe for injury honestly. We’re fighting the league on it. … It’s going to be tough shorthanded.” 

Beal said he does not know how much time Washington would need to get back into game shape. 

“It’s hard to put a date on that,” Beal said, “but I know it’s more than one day, that’s for damn sure.” 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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