Would you be okay playing with or against a guy that yo…

Would you be okay playing with or against a guy that you knew tested positive for COVID19?” “Curry: Oh that’d be tough. I mean, that’s one of the things that you’re having to address because that is a real scenario. If you try to play and there is no vaccine, there’s no way to really guarantee nobody’s going to get it. I think if you are at a place where everybody says yeah we’re ready to play and then they know what they’re committing to. And if not, it doesn’t make sense, then you won’t see a ball bounce.”

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Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton hosted Capture Sports Marketing’s Athletes Doing Good Radiothon yesterday on ESPN Wisconsin and raised a total of $205,859 for COVID-19 relief during the 11-hour event. The $205,859 includes a match of all donations from Herb Kohl Philanthropies. The money will be donated to Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin and Connaughton’s With Us Foundation.
The radiothon aired on 94.5 ESPN Milwaukee and 100.5 ESPN Madison from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Connaughton was joined on-air by Bucks teammates Donte DiVincenzo, Kyle Korver, Khris Middleton and Antetokounmpo, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, general manager Jon Horst and head coach Mike Budenholzer, along with numerous other guests from across the sports world including Aaron Rodgers, Matt LaFleur, Craig Counsell, Greg Gard, Josh Hader and Yelich.
The Celts have been in contact with Massachusetts officials, who earlier this week posted guidelines for a phased reopening of businesses and other activities in the commonwealth. Professional basketball workouts were not cleared directly in the first phase, but with the NBA allowing controlled individual sessions for its teams in states where such activity can take place, the Celtics are working to satisfy public health concerns and open the doors to their personnel — again, under distancing and other prescribed measures.
Quin Snyder talked about how things unfolded from a coaching perspective after the team came back from Oklahoma City on March 12, the day after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus and the NBA suspended its season. Rather than go ahead with things like it was business as usual, Snyder felt the gravity of the situation and wanted to take a break from basketball and let the team process what was happening, not only in the NBA, but in the world.
Gallinari likes the idea of restarting the season but insists precautions must be taken to prevent players from being infected by the deadly virus, which can also impose lasting debilitating effects. "At the thought of going back and playing, I'm very excited," Gallinari said. "At the same time, as a player, I want it to be as safe as possible. Everybody knows this virus is no joke. If we do it, we need to do it in a safe environment."
Ingles will take a wait-and-see approach to playing games if the season does start. "It's not worth it," Ingles, discussing practice at the Jazz facility, told Utah radio station 1280 The Zone last week. "I have a gym, I have everything I can do. As for basketball, it's a bit more difficult, but I think that as we go ahead and find out more information about it, it will be easier to make a decision. But I am in no way willing to risk my children, and Renae, and everything else, to go play basketball."
When a masked Rajon Rondo dropped off groceries to those in need back home in Louisville, Kentucky, the socially distanced recipients always said thank you. And those who recognized him often asked the same thing. “The first question was always, ‘When is the NBA season going to come back?’ ” Rondo told The Undefeated. “I got a lot of those. I told them, ‘I will know the same time you find out.’ ”
There has been some optimism over the possible return of the NBA after many teams recently reopened their practice facilities. The Los Angeles Lakers reopened theirs May 16, and while Rondo said he has yet to return, he hopes the league will return to action in a safe and healthy fashion soon. “I want to play. As a competitor, you want to play,” Rondo said. But he also wants to protect his family and the people around him. “Safety first, understanding that life. We can’t take it for granted, even though we are athletes who are some of the best people in shape as far as body and heart condition. But all it takes is one case where a body can’t fight off the virus.”
Rondo and numerous other NBA players have been helping the less fortunate during the pandemic, with Louisville being his main focus. The Rajon Rondo Foundation joined with Lineage Logistics, a provider of temperature-controlled food logistics, and Louisville food bank Dare to Care to deliver more than 250,000 meals. Rondo spent three weeks in Louisville in April packing and delivering meals, as well as distributing gift cards and exercise kits to senior citizens and families with kids involved in his youth foundation.

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Renata Burigatto received a text message from her husband, NBA referee Mark Lindsay, 30 minutes after the scheduled tip-off of the game he was assigned to officiate between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder on March 11. “I texted him, ‘Oh no, you OK? Did you get hurt?” Burigatto told USA TODAY Sports. “He replied, ‘No, they stopped the game and are going to test us for the coronavirus.’ ”
That began a stressful 12 hours for the couple, who were already operating under great stress because Burigatto is a frontline COVID-19 doctor specializing in acute in-patient care at Penn Medicine’s Chester County (Pennsylvania) Hospital. “It was a very powerful night for us both on a personal and professional level,” Burigatto said. “I very busy in the hospital, working seven days in a row, 13 hours a day. Trying [to] balance that with trying to convey safety was challenging. We also have three young children at home. We were trying to keep them safe and consider whether we were going to keep them in school at that time. There was a little of uncertainty and there was a lot of anxiety about what choices we were going to make to keep all of safe.”
In their own way, Lindsay and Burigatto are at the heart of COVID-19 – Lindsay being on the court when the Thunder team doctor ran on the court to inform referees of the unfolding situation of a player testing positive and the idea that other players could be infected and Burigatto caring for patients on the East Coast. “The anxiety of her or one of us becoming infected is very real,” Lindsay said. “That thought is never too far from my mind especially when she’s at the hospital. We experience that anxiety, isolation and uncertainty.”
It sounds like the NBA has made some progress towards a return to play and maybe salvaging the season. What are you hearing from the players association and does it seem like it’s realistic? Fred VanVleet: “The crazy part is that everything we hear is out, you know what I mean? Like, there are no secrets really. There’s not much that you guys don’t know that we know. Obviously, we probably have a little bit more candid conversations in private. But, yeah, as of now what’s out there is about Orlando and Vegas and trying to get back and see what that would look like, try to get teams a couple weeks to get ready to play and then see what happens."
Fred VanVleet: "So, I think the optimism, there’s some credence to it, but obviously we all know the challenges that we’re facing. I just think that the combination of there being so much money involved and 450 guys who live and die basketball, I think there are a lot of reasons to get back to playing. So, I think the motive is there, the want to play is there, the resources are there. It’s just a matter of figuring out how we can put it together in the right way where it’s safe and efficient. There’s gonna be risk regardless. There’s risk if you cancel the season and there’s risk if we get back together. But I think the league is just trying to assess those risks and make sure we’ve got all of our bases covered.”
What would you need to see implemented or changed for you to feel comfortable going back? Fred VanVleet: “If I’m there by myself I think I’m okay with it. Now, if my kids were there, or things like that, I would be a little bit more on guard. That’s just me speaking personally. I’m pretty at ease with it. I’m not letting it freak me out but I also, to my knowledge, don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions or anything like that. So, there are guys in the league that are probably going to have real concerns about the virus itself and I understand that, but I think for me personally I’m not in that boat, so to speak.:
Fred VanVleet: "I think as long as they’re doing their due diligence and it’s not just a money play, where it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s get back to play because we have all this money we need to make up.’ I know that’s probably one of the factors but as long as there are real guidelines in terms of what we’re doing from a health standpoint, which I feel there is, I think that I’ll be okay with it. And if not, I’ve accepted it. I think we’ve been on break long enough to where I’m pretty open-minded to any idea that gets us back playing, you know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they cancelled the season because I understand all of the things that go into it, but I definitely wanna get back out there.”
While NBA sources insist there are still many logistical issues to be worked out before the league can resume its games, there are team executives frustrated that the process has been slowed by the lack of widespread COVID-19 testing.
But there is another hurdle for the league to clear, and it’s one that became quite clear when some players were tested in the immediate aftermath of the suspension of play on March 11. According to sources, just three teams were tested for the coronavirus by public entities — the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, because they were the teams on the floor as Rudy Gobert’s positive test was returned, and the Toronto Raptors, because … Canada and its universal health care system (Toronto had played at Utah on March 9).

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I had heard that they were they were looking at a five-game series for the first round. And then they would eventually get to seven games but you're you're refuting that with your information. Adrian Wojnarowski: All of it was based on how many days do we have to play with here? How many days do we have? But the goal is to do it in seven-game series. But that doesn't mean they haven't discussed it, they discussed everything. And I do think that was one of the conversations, what would that look like? I know their preference is to try to keep those playoffs best of seven all the way through.
Eric Walden: Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, to the media on a Zoom call, on why he made his $200K donation now: "Immediately, my knee-jerk reaction was to do something right away," but he wanted to research where his money could ultimately provide the most help.
NBA agent Erik Kabe on how COVID-19 may affect the 2020 NBA draft: "I think it will have a major effect on it. Every year, there are a couple guys who work their way up draft boards - either they have an impressive Combine showing, or they crush a workout with a certain team and get called back for a second workout and they crush that too and then they get drafted in the first round. That happens every year. On the flip side, there are always guys who don't perform well during pre-draft and then they fall in the draft. It's hard to see that happening if there's no Combine and no in-person workouts."
NBA agent Erik Kabe on how COVID-19 may affect the 2020 NBA draft: "How are teams currently making their draft boards? All of these teams send scouts to different college games and tournaments to watch these players, so I guess [their draft board] is based on scouting reports and film and then the interviews. It's going to be the most important interview of each guys' life because it could have a huge impact on their draft status. I think the NBA is still trying to figure everything out, but it's definitely going to be a very unique process (and hopefully something we never have to deal with again). It's up in the air how teams are going to deal with it, how they're going to evaluate guys, how agents are going to market guys. It's definitely going to be interesting."
Barring an unforeseen turn of events, many NBA owners, executives and National Basketball Players Association elders believe commissioner Adam Silver will greenlight the return to play in June -- with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July, sources said.
The NBA is in serious discussions with Disney about the property, which has gained clear momentum over cities such as Las Vegas, sources said. It remains unclear when the games would begin, but multiple sources say the prospect of players fully training in mid-June and playing by mid-July has been the most popular and possible scenario discussed. NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Board of Governors on May 12 that he aims to decide on the season in two-to-four weeks, and that he wants to wait as long as he can to make final decisions.
While the league has explored the possibility of holding games in multiple cities, it appears likely that Orlando would be a sole host. Sources confirmed that Houston has also received serious consideration as a host city, but Orlando is on track to win its bid so long as final details regarding testing and hotel use are resolved. For the NBA, Orlando/Disney World’s controllability as a playing site — with a private property having the necessary complexes, hotels and amenities — has been the most appealing of all the possibilities all along.
As I reported two weeks ago, the NBA prefers to have teams play at one or multiple neutral sites; Disney World in Orlando and MGM Grand in Las Vegas are the most likely possibilities. Other locations are also under consideration, including Houston, multiple sources say. In downtown Houston, Toyota Center, the Rockets’ home arena, neighbors the George R. Brown Convention Center; combined, they have the facilities necessary to serve as a neutral site to host games. It remains possible that teams could play games in their own arenas. On Monday, governors in three of the country’s most populous states—California, New York, and Texas—signaled they are open to having sports games without fans. MLB and the NFL plan to do just that. But playing games at a neutral site makes it easier to control variables—the more people involved, the greater the risk. With travel comes the inclusion of pilots, drivers, and hotel workers.
Players and staffers would be living with family members or roommates, all of whom can’t be tracked by the league. Hosting the rest of the season at a neutral site would create less risk, though it remains to be seen what the league and players union will agree on. No matter where games are played, thousands of swabs and tests for players, coaches, and other personnel will be needed. Sources around the league and medical professionals agree that a quarantine with each person staying by themselves for multiple days or longer would be the most effective way to reduce the chances of an outbreak.
The league has researched various ways to bring basketball back safely, sources say, including the use of a sampling procedure called “group testing,” which aims to examine a large number of people with just a few tests. The league is also contributing to a nationwide antibody study at Mayo Clinic that involves an innovative new fingerstick test kit. Based on my conversations with sources at the league office, team executives, and medical professionals, here’s what the NBA is working on now, and what the testing process might look like if games were to resume.
The NBA has been looking for ways to support research of the pandemic since March—including recommending players who have successfully recovered from coronavirus to donate blood to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which is also run by Mayo Clinic. So far, close to 400 people from about half of the league’s teams have voluntarily participated in Mayo Clinic’s antibodies study. Portland, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Boston are among those teams, and more teams may join when their facilities open, league sources say. According to Sampathkumar, over 1,000 total people have contributed to the Mayo Clinic’s study. Participants from the NBA receive both a vein puncture and a fingerstick blood draw at their respective team practice facilities using supplies that the Mayo Clinic shipped to team doctors. In addition to helping the research of antibodies, the tests help the league get a read on COVID-19’s spread amongst the NBA population.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Ringer that players were fully on board with providing samples. “Our players have embraced the opportunity to contribute to this important public health study that will help researchers better understand the prevalence of COVID-19, potentially improve care for patients, and promote long-term efforts to develop a vaccine and treatment for the virus,” Roberts said.
The NBA still doesn't know whether it will resume the halted 2019-20 season in some form, but Mike Bibby already knows his first shot at coaching at the professional level will have to wait. Bibby's employer BIG3 officially canceled its 2020 season on Monday, nixing his pro head coaching debut. "It's upsetting that it's not gonna happen," the 14-year NBA veteran said. The BIG3 basketball league was shut down to ensure the safety of fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will return for its 2021 season.
The initiative, which is supported by the league office and the players' association, is expected to have the participation of all 30 teams. "We are learning about this disease," Sikka said. "We have learned a lot in two months. So if we can take the next two months, learn on the fly, mitigate risk, then we can move pretty quickly to do the right things to have safe play." As practice facilities begin to open around the league, NBA officials are continuing to seek information about best practices to mitigate risk of infection for players and staff. Sikka, one of 10 people on the NBA's sports science committee, has become one of the league's resources.
In just one season with the Wolves, Sikka and Rosas became close to Towns' parents, who attended almost all of their son's games. "It very much hit home for us," Sikka said. "I am never going to forget that experience with Karl. It changed my life, it changed his life, it changed our organization's history. It was extremely challenging for everybody." Prior to his mother's death, Towns donated $100,000 to assist Sikka and the Mayo Clinic's coronavirus research. "We took a cue from KAT and his family," Rosas said. "We took that cue and looked for ways to be good teammates to the NBA and the 29 other teams by connecting with Mayo Clinic to try to find strategies to fight the virus."
Gasol mentioned that he understands the concerns of his colleagues regarding the resumption of the season but once play begins there’s no use holding back anything. “There is no need to be afraid to play again. Yes, I respect it, because it is a virus that has proven to have a very negative impact, but once we start playing we have to do it 100%,” he said.
Of course who knows how COVID-19 will change that timeline. Calabro called coronavirus the “huge x-factor” in this equation. And he’s right. We don’t know what the financial landscape in professional sports will be like one year from now, let alone five. The collective hope is that this will end up being a minor bump in the road. That’s exactly what Calabro envisions. “Having calculated the x-factor, I still think within five years, yes, we’ll see NBA basketball in Seattle,” Calabro said.

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In CloseUp360's “Hoopers Meet Heroes” series, which connects NBA and WNBA players with healthcare professionals on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus in their respective cities, Magic guard D.J. Augustin chatted with Dr. Sarah Barbour, an infectious disease physician in Orlando. After treating gunshot victims from the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016—the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11—she's now helping COVID-19 patients.
What is also uncertain is how many games they will play before launching into the postseason. In fact, there is the question of whether teams outside of the playoff picture should return at all. Fizdale thinks it might be beneficial to limit the remainder of the season to the teams that still have a shot at the postseason. “Is it worth risking the employees that you need to show up to the games to make a game function? Is it worth the players health? The coaches’ health? The trainers’ health?”
Vasquez believes the NBA should be the first major American sports league to return from the coronavirus-prompted shutdown. "We're missing the game of basketball. I want to see LeBron. I want to see the best players out there. Even if I'm able to watch it on TV. It's not gonna be the same. You're gonna have to figure out ways to motivate yourself and perform [without fans]. But imagine winning a championship. I heard Shaq was saying, 'Everyone pack it up and go home, we'll see you guys next year,'" he said. "Whatever it is, it's gonna be a tough decision for the NBA. But at the end of the day, I'm telling you, whatever league comes out and starts playing right now, everyone at home is gonna watch because there's nothing else to do. So we're missing basketball. Let's be the first league to get back to work.”
They not only focused on building strength back up in Williamson’s right knee. They also worked with him to become more flexible so his body could better withstand the incredible force his 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame generates every time he jumps. Even the way Williamson lands was a point of emphasis. Williamson ended up missing the first three months of the season, a total of 45 games. The Pelicans took steps to reduce the risk that he will ever again have to miss such an extended stretch of time. And the rehabilitation never stopped — even during the coronavirus pandemic.
Griffin said the Pelicans received special clearance from the NBA so Williamson could continue receiving treatment at the team’s practice facility in Metairie while it was closed down. Reserve forward Kenrich Williams, who missed more than two months with a back injury, also rehabbed at the Oschner Sports Performance Center when its doors were otherwise shuttered.
Brett Brown is curious. The 76ers coach ponders an ideal way for the NBA to resume the season. He believes anything that equals a realistic timeline where players aren’t put in harm’s way would be best. “Forget the virus standpoint, just the injury standpoint,” Brown said. “There are stats ... Look at the stats after lockouts, the propensity of injuries is significantly increased if you just try to cram stuff in.”
That’s why he’s curious to see what the league’s return-to-play process will look like if the 2019-20 NBA season resumes. Wednesday marks the 70th day since the league suspended the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. It will take the players a minimum of three-to-four weeks to get back into playing shape. “I’d be curious to see if that includes some way to have a preseason game. I don’t know,” Brown said.
Marc Stein: Among NBA return-to-play scenarios being discussed, league sources say, is a template calling for teams to conduct Training Camp 2.0 in their own practice facilities before heading to one or two centralized sites to resume play, with Orlando and Las Vegas still vying for games
The preference to play basketball while trying to safeguard against COVID-19 infection was repeated. “They all want to play,” Stevens said of NBA players. “I’ve heard nobody say they didn’t want to play. But safety is a priority.” A moment later, Stevens acknowledged the risk in playing. “I think safety has been the priority and will continue to be the priority,” he said. “But that doesn’t make anybody less antsy to play.”
Kings President of Business Operations John Rinehart informed employees Monday that more than one-third of the team’s full-time workers will be furloughed for four months beginning June 1 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Rinehart made the announcement in an email to employees, a copy of which was obtained by The Sacramento Bee.
A league source told The Bee the furloughs will impact about 100 employees representing approximately 34 percent of the team’s full-time workforce. Essential basketball operations functions, including front office, health and performance, and scouting/analytics positions, will not be impacted, the source said.
Sneakers worn by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen while they played for the Dream Team are being auctioned. The sneakers, each signed by the Hall of Fame wearer, are part of the Lelands 2020 Spring Classic Auction that runs through June 19. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the sneakers will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts.
Storyline: Coronavirus
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January 19, 2021 | 3:28 am EST Update

Victor Oladipo eyeing future with Rockets?

Guard Victor Oladipo exuded optimism about the Houston Rockets after his franchise debut, presenting quite a contrast to James Harden’s final comments as a member of the franchise. “I know that better days are ahead for the Houston Rockets, and I’m looking forward to being a part of those special days,” Oladipo said after his 32-point, nine-assist performance in a 125-120 road loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
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