Magic coach Steve Clifford tests positive, will miss games

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Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford calls a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors Friday, April 16, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford has tested positive for the coronavirus and will miss multiple games while going through the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin will coach in Clifford’s absence, starting with Sunday’s game against Indiana. Clifford already expected to miss Sunday because of two positive tests in a three-day span, and subsequent testing confirmed that he has the virus.

There is no timetable for his return. Typically, those in the league who have tested positive have missed at least 10 days before being cleared to resume work. That would mean Clifford could miss much of the remainder of the season.

Even if Clifford misses just a week, he would still be out for five games. The Magic host the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, then are at Cleveland on Wednesday and Memphis on Friday before returning home to meet the Grizzlies again on Saturday.

“I’m in a place here where I’m healthy enough so hopefully I can help somewhat," Clifford said. “But also I’m fortunate — I have a veteran staff."

Other NBA coaches have missed some time this season for virus-related reasons. Toronto's Nick Nurse had to miss three games because he and several of his assistant coaches were dealing with the protocols, and Dallas' Rick Carlisle missed one game earlier this month following a false positive test.

Clifford originally tested positive Thursday night. He returned two negative tests Friday, giving hope that the first positive was a false result, then learned Saturday afternoon that a test he took that morning came back positive. He was tested again after that positive, and the decision was revealed Sunday that he must enter the protocols.

Clifford has received both doses of the Moderna vaccine, getting the second one on Thursday. He is not yet considered “fully vaccinated” by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols, since two weeks have not passed since his final dose. He said he has experienced no side effects from the vaccine.