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The Utah Jazz are now the only team in the NBA that hasn’t had any of its players in the league’s health and safety protocols during the 2021-22 season.

The Jazz are certainly pleased about this development, but they don’t feel like it’s because they have been better than other teams at being careful. The omicron variant of COVID-19 has been steadily making its way through the NBA and the Jazz feel like it’s just a matter of time before they have to deal with their own cases.

“I think we’re all kind of prepared for, at some point, it to creep in,” Mike Conley said. “Because it’s everywhere and right now it is on all of us to be responsible and try to practice our social distancing.”

There’s only so much distancing, masking and hand washing that the Jazz can do though. They’re about to start a heavy month of travel and with more travel comes more risk.

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“There’s just so much that we can’t predict and can’t know,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “One of my biggest concerns is just the fabric of our team.”

And that’s the thing that every team is dealing with as cases continue to mount in the NBA.

The inevitability of the situation means that at some point the Jazz are probably going to be without main rotational players and they won’t know for how long. That could mean losing games they otherwise would have won. That could mean a delay in learning things about the team against Western Conference opponents. That could mean that games get postponed or that the Jazz have to sign hardship players to fill in for the players that miss time.

All of those possibilities could upset the fabric of the team, or at least momentarily stall its progress. That’s the battle that lies ahead for the Jazz. It’s a battle not only against the coronavirus, but against the interruption of the season and the repercussions of that interruption.

New with the Jazz

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Stat of the week

The Dallas Mavericks lead the league in players used this season because of COVID-19 hardship signings and G League call-ups. The Mavericks have played an NBA-high 24 players this season.

From the archives

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The 10 biggest Jazz stories in 2021 included both glad and sad tidings

This week in Jazz history

On Jan. 4, 1975, the New Orleans Jazz set a then NBA record (for games played with the use of the 24-second shot clock) by scoring only 20 points in the first half of a 111-89 loss at Seattle. The record stood for nearly 25 years before the Los Angeles Clippers scored 19 points in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 14, 1999.

Extra points

  • The next step for Trent Forrest is learning to trust himself as a scorer (Deseret News)
  • LeBron James joined Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in elite club (Deseret News)
  • Joe Ingles reflects on Aussie Christmas pool parties (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • By scaling mountains, Rudy Gobert hopes to help Jazz reach NBA summit (The Athletic)

Around the league

The NBA has postponed 10 games in December, after postponing zero through October and November.

Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon to become head coach of Las Vegas Aces.

Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Up next

Dec. 31 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves | AT&T SportsNet

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Jan. 1 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Golden State Warriors | NBATV

Jan. 3 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ New Orleans Pelicans | AT&T SportsNet

Jan. 5 | 8 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets | ESPN

Jan. 7 | 5:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Toronto Raptors | AT&T SportsNet

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