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Two to miss NBA restart as cases rise,

LOS ANGELES • Portland Trail Blazers veteran Trevor Ariza and the Washington Wizards' Davis Bertans have both opted to skip the National Basketball Association's (NBA) planned season relaunch in Orlando after Florida recorded a surge in coronavirus cases, reports said.

Ariza, 34, elected to miss Portland's campaign after committing instead to a one-month visitation window with his son, ESPN reported on Monday.

The decision could cost the forward up to US$1.8 million (S$2.5 million) in lost earnings if the Blazers - who are ninth in the Western Conference - make it into the NBA play-offs.

The NBA had said last week that any player who decides to sit out the rest of the season will have their compensation cut for each game skipped, up to a maximum of 14 games, but will not be in breach of their contracts.

Ariza's decision comes ahead of today's deadline that players have been given to notify teams if they decide not to play.

Teams are required to submit their final rosters by July 1.

The league is aiming for a July 30 restart at the Walt Disney World Resort with 22 teams, including the 12 who have already clinched their post-season berths.

Meanwhile, Washington forward Bertans will miss the restart as a precautionary measure.

The 27-year-old is set to agree terms on a new long-term contract when he enters free agency and has already suffered two serious knee injuries in his career.

The two withdrawals come as Florida battles to get a grip on its coronavirus outbreak, with a record daily total of 4,049 recorded cases on Saturday.

On Monday, Florida passed a grim milestone after becoming only the seventh American state to register more than 100,000 cases.

ESPN said NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently held a conference call with team executives and addressed the Florida outbreak.

The report said he was "resolute but sombre" and was confident that keeping players together in a "bubble" would help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

An NBA spokesman also said that the league is "closely monitoring the data in Florida and will continue to work collaboratively with the National Basketball Players Association, public health officials and medical experts regarding our plans".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS