“I think it (the NBA season) is going to get off the ground,” Fertitta said. “I don’t know if it’s going to stay. But we’re going to do whatever. You’re going to follow the protocols. It’s no different from one of our businesses. If somebody’s sick, you send them home. Everybody else watch themselves. Sanitize the establishment, and you have to move on.”
“If you’re not willing to say, ‘Oh my gosh, (hypothetically) three people tested today for the Houston Rockets, and three people tested today for the LA Lakers. Those guys go home, and we’re going to play the games” — if we’re not willing to recognize that that’s going to be what happens, then we’re not going to complete the season, not in football, baseball, basketball or whatever.”
“The coronavirus is everywhere right now,” Fertitta said. “I know 100 people now that have had it, and I knew nobody that had it three weeks ago, four weeks ago, six weeks ago. Two of my kids have already had it out of my four and are well now and back to their normal lives and never got that sick. It’s here to stay. That’s why you have to wear your mask.”
According to people with knowledge of the situation and the NBA’s health and safety manual that The Times reviewed, Lakers doctors could “protect” McGee and any other players they deem to be at high risk. A week ago, players had to complete a three-page medical questionnaire and team doctors must evaluate them by Thursday. Among the questions for players and traveling staff was whether or not the person has or had suffered from moderate to severe asthma.
Scott Agness: Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon confirms that he tested positive for coronavirus. "I'm doing well, feeling well and progressing well. I plan to join my teammates in Orlando for the resumption of the NBA season and playoffs."
J. Michael Falgoust: Malcolm Brogdon has tested positive for COVID-19, league sources tells @IndyStarSports
Some are terrified, not only for the people who could spend up to three months in COVID-19 ravaged Florida starting in mid-July but also for the incredible damage the league could incur for years to come if too many players test positive and it all comes crashing down. “If the cases keep spiking in Florida, things are going to happen,” one GM told The Athletic on Monday. “I’m really, really concerned for the league big-picture wise in many, many ways.”
Others are mildly concerned, trusting of Commissioner Adam Silver and his staff that shared their 113-page “Health and Safety Protocols” memo with teams last week but also wary of the physical risks and mental health challenges that this unnatural environment will present for players and staff members alike. And that was before the positive tests of players such as Denver’s Nikola Jokic started rolling in on Tuesday. “It’s the hindsight of ‘Was it worth it?’ that worries me,” another GM said. “If something happens, it’s (the question of) ‘Was it worth it?’ If everything goes great, it’s historic, and it’ll be remembered throughout history. ‘Remember the Bubble?’ or whatever they’re going to call it. It’ll be a special thing as long as we can make it through.”
Sources say the Clippers have been the most vocal when it comes to pushing for more family and friends to be allowed earlier in the timeline, with their routinely-stated hope (via weekly calls between the NBA and front office executives) that the league will eventually allow at least one family member or friend to join players at the start of the first round. “They’re fighting for that,” a rival GM said.
In Le Parisien, he recalls this terrible experience of last March, and that label of pariah and scapegoat that was affixed to him when the disease was announced. "The NBA was waiting for a first case to stop the championship, it fell on me! I became the image of the coronavirus for the Americans, the domino that triggered the end of the season, but it was not I who brought the virus to the United States."
Besides, he still hasn't recovered all of his sensory faculties. "The taste has returned, but the smell is still not 100%. I can smell the smells, but not from afar. I spoke to specialists, who told me that it could take up to a year," he reveals in a column in L'Equipe.
Nuggets franchise center Nikola Jokic has tested positive for the coronavirus and is currently back in Serbia, multiple league sources told The Denver Post. Citing medical privacy, the Nuggets declined comment.
All NBA players were to be back in market on June 22, and players who were overseas were to be back in market on June 15. Jokic was granted an exception by the NBA to stay in Sombor longer, however, during his recent trip, he tested positive.
Eight days ago Jokic was in Belgrade for an exhibition basketball game. One of the players who participated in the game, and was later seen in close proximity to Jokic, tested positive soon after.
Brad Turner: Sources: Lakers began mandatory COVID-19 testing today at team facility. The swab test lasted about 5 minutes and it was 2 through the nose and 1 through the throat.
Adam Wexler: #Rockets owner @TilmanJFertitta on @CNBC said NBA teams will have to recognize games will need to be played w/o players who test positive in order to complete the season (same for NFL, MLB, etc.) Also said 2 of his kids had coronavirus & are now fine, doing well. #COVID__19 #NBA pic.twitter.com/5MBb2DODVO
Last Tuesday through Saturday, according to state data, 17 percent of coronavirus tests in the county returned positive results. That was a significant jump from the 10-day period before that, from June 6 to 15, when the positive rate was 5 percent. The spike is yet another source of apprehension to manage for league and union officials, who just emerged from weeks of complicated discussions to come to terms on all the health and safety restrictions for its restart beginning July 7.
The main weakness in the N.B.A.’s approach, Halkitis said, is the prospect of players or team staff members leaving the campus without authorization and exposing themselves to the coronavirus — or “workers who are not staying on the grounds” bringing it in. “Do I 100 percent believe that people aren’t going to leave?” Halkitis said. “I mean, these are adults, right? Human behavior is really hard to control.”
For an NBA attempting to finish its season at Disney in Orlando, is problematic, experts say. “Extremely concerning,” says Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist at Emory University. “Absolutely,” says Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “Of course, they should be concerned about case numbers around where they’re trying to build their bubble,” says Jared Baeten, an epidemiology professor at the University of Washington. “Yes,” says Kathleen Bachynski, a public health professor at Muhlenberg College. “And that’s because a true bubble is just really, really hard to create.”
“That is a very serious outbreak, and it’s going to get worse,” Binney says. “This is very quickly approaching scram reactor territory for me. Even with a bubble plan. I’m deeply, deeply worried. “I still like the NBA’s plan,” he clarifies. “This is not the NBA’s fault. This is the state of Florida’s fault. The NBA has done nothing wrong, other than putting their eggs in the Orlando basket.”
The NBA will administer tens of thousands of tests while at Disney. It will spend large sums on advanced technology. “If the numbers are spiking in the local community, it would also be important to think about, well, where are we pouring all these resources?” Bachynski asks. “And is that really the right thing to do?” Says Binney: “If there’s that much disease, and there’s that much of a severe outbreak, and if hospitals start to get overwhelmed, and you don’t have enough testing there, which they don’t ... if the situation still looks like this next month, I’m not sure how you could start.”
The test is not mandatory and will be used on players, coaches and staff from NBA teams who voluntarily opt in to the study. There is buy-in from the NBPA. “Our players are excited to be a part of this study," NBPA chief medical officer Joe Rogowski. “Not only does it offer the potential for players to have an alternative method of testing within the NBA Campus in Orlando, but more importantly it allows them to leverage their regular testing to make a larger contribution to public health in the fight against this virus."
Since NBA players will be tested regularly for COVID-19, this will give researchers a chance to compare test results. This would help allow submission to the FDA for widespread approval. Researchers are seeking fast approval so that the general public could have access to SalivaDirect by mid-July.
Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins told the Orlando Sentinel on Friday the NBA restart committee feels confident in the league’s safety plans. “We had a number of guiding principles as we had discussions about the restart and how we would restart, and the No. 1 guiding principle for us, for the league overall, is the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff that will be on the campus at Disney,” Martins said. “We have consulted with some of the top medical experts in the country, epidemiologists from Columbia University and Johns Hopkins, and others, [including] a former surgeon general [Vivek Murthy].
“So a lot of time and effort has been put into the safety protocols. We’re confident that the protocols that are in place will keep everybody on the Disney campus confined and amongst each other, and with little to no exposure of anyone else from the community. So in saying that, I’m confident that we have a safe plan in place and that despite the recent rise in cases in Florida that it will be a safe environment for all of our players, coaches and staff that are at Disney.”
With two major hospital systems in Orlando, leagues officials also are confident they won’t use medical supplies needed elsewhere while treating any emergency injuries. “I absolutely believe it still makes sense,” Martins said. “There will be no impact on local resources whatsoever. Both our team and our league have been in contact with the Florida Department of Health, and Dr. [Raul] Pino, [the Health Officer for the Department of Health in Orange County] in particular, and we’ve been assured there are plenty of resources available for our local residents and that we won’t be having any negative impact on that whatsoever.”
If the season gets canceled, players would lose $1.2 billion in salary (or 35 percent of their total pay), according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Also, the NBA would lose $2 billion in revenue, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. NBA agents have been delivering “stern warnings” to their players recently, explaining “the financial implications of a lost season,” writes Wojnarowski.
This $2 billion drop in league revenue would have a significant effect on the NBA’s salary cap. Before this Orlando plan came together, experts like John Hollinger and Danny LeRoux of The Athletic estimated that a canceled regular season could lead to an $8 million dip in the cap (as HoopsHype outlined). But if the NBA playoffs were canceled as well, the cap could decrease by more than $10 million (with some estimating a dip of approximately $15 million).
As agents have warned their players, the long-term consequences of canceling the season could be even more severe than the short-term hit. If the NBA couldn’t resume play because the majority of players decided to sit out, there’s a strong possibility that the owners would terminate the current collective bargaining agreement and force a lockout. (If the cancellation was due to COVID-19, it seems unlikely that the owners would terminate the CBA). Right now, the CBA is relatively player-friendly, but that could change if the season is canceled and the CBA is ripped up.
Some players have argued that if they don’t play in Orlando, they’d be missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make their voices heard on the biggest stage imaginable. If the NBA resumes the 2019-20 season next month, millions of people who are missing sports are expected to watch (even if they aren’t big basketball fans), giving players an enormous platform.
Many agents of rising 2021 free agents are telling their clients: choose security. They know that the superstars, as ever, will get paid next summer, but any player looking at the Mid-Level Exception of lower in ’21 may have problems, because they think a) teams will be cutting budgets in response to COVID (i.e., less willing to pay the luxury tax in 2021, with some teams slashing below that number), and b) most teams will only carry 14 players, one short of the maximum 15 allowed, and worry more about re-signing their own players instead of forging out to aggressively sign others.
“Before this year, you knew what that crop of ’21 is going to be,” one prominent agent, speaking on background, said. “It’s going to be even more crowded, because you’re going to have a significantly higher number of players (this summer) doing 1+1s (two-year deals with a player option for the second season). … I’m very lucky that I’m not going nuts going into this free agency. It’s going to be a bloodbath. We don’t know what the cap is going to be, but if it stays the same, how many owners are going to go with more than 13 guys?”
Further clouding 2021 is that COVID-19, far from being off in the wings just because some states decided to reopen, is back center stage, destroying lives with a vengeance in multiple states, which have seen spikes in cases in the last fortnight. So while the plan is to finish this season in Orlando, we can’t say with certainty – yet – that that’s going to come to fruition. And what happens for 2021 in a worst-case scenario, if the virus forces the NBA and union to cancel the rest of this season?
“We don’t know whether they’re going to play or not,” another top agent said. “I know everyone’s assuming they’re going to play, but you see all these things going on, people coming back (testing positive) from football, people protesting, I don’t know the effects of all this. … you can’t tell me that if I’m a 65-year-old executive, with a family, that I’m comfortable being in this bubble? Me, it’s just too much unknown. … it probably makes sense for everybody to sign a one-year deal. Even the big free agents like Davis – sign a one-year deal (this summer) and see what the numbers are for ’21, and sign a contract based off the projections for that.”
NBA Central: Brian Windhorst says an overwhelming majority of players are excited and ready for Orlando "From what I understand, it is going to happen . . . They're on the verge of coming to an agreement that could be announced in the next 48 hours.” (🎥 ESPN) pic.twitter.com/2ezKKxrItg
MSNBC: President Trump on coronavirus testing: “I said to my people, slow the testing down, please." Jordan Clarkson: idk what smoke they got in the white house? but this the dumbest s--- i heard.
David Smiley: Inbox: The Florida Department of Health, in an advisory, "urges all individuals to refrain from participating in gatherings of more than 50 people." No reference to time frame. (Republican convention events are in two months)
We asked Covid-expert Dr. Glenn Copeland about the risks that come with such a scenario. Dr. Copeland serves as the medical director for the Toronto Blue Jays and Ottawa Red Blacks while also serving in an advisory role to 20 teams throughout the four major American leagues and at QuestCap. Dr. Copeland was quick to commend the work of NBA commissioner Adam Silver and his staff in preparing for the season’s upcoming resumption.
While the NBA has been adamant they will not stop players from properly leaving the bubble, they must be vigilant in policing those who do so. “I commend the NBA for not letting up on this. They can’t let up. What happens if a food handler and unfortunately their wife comes home the night before after working in a facility that had an outbreak? You can’t live in a complete bubble.”
While the NBA plan includes a cardiac screening before allowing infected players to resume action, there is still so much to learn from this disease. It’s worth considering if playing games without full and extensive knowledge of both the immediate and long term risks is wise. “Life is going to move forward. It’s a return to safe life that the NBA is going to show us can be done. We know there will be drawbacks,” Copeland continued.
Green is now helping in the fight against coronavirus. He sits on the advisory board of Brio Clinical Laboratory, an Ontario-based company that performs coronavirus testing throughout Southern California, and believes regular testing is the way "you treat your employees" and "care about your community." Green, who has Native American heritage through the Choctaw tribe in Oklahoma, for years as served as a health advisor for tribes in Southern California. As he does that now amid the pandemic, he said he wants casinos to set the standard for how to keep the virus' spread under control.
What are your main safety concerns about the Orlando bubble, and are positive tests inevitable? Mark Cuban: I don’t have specific concerns. I think the NBA and Disney are working with our doctors and scientists to do everything possible to keep (participants) safe. In fact, given the rise in cases in states, I have every reason to believe the setup we have in Orlando will be safer for our players and travel parties than staying in their respective cities.
It’s just not increased testing leading to increased positive tests. The percentage of tests coming back positive has increased, too. The percent of new positive tests in Florida was 10% on Thursday, up from 3.17% on June 5, according to the Florida Department of Health. The Philadelphia Phillies closed their Florida facility on Friday after five players and three staff members who gathered for workouts at their Clearwater training facility tested positive for COVID-19, the team confirmed Friday. The Toronto Blue Jays also closed their facilities, according to the ESPN.
Justise Winslow spoke to former NBA forward Caron Butler on the league's Twitter feed on Friday afternoon and expressed concern about the continuation of the season, the same way he did on his Instagram page on Thursday evening. "The bubble is tricky man," Winslow told Butler. "From the COVID standpoint, I don't think it's a great idea just to have all these people in a bubble and tight spaces. It's almost the opposite of social distancing. We're going to have workers who are working for Disney; they're going to be going home and seeing their family and doing whatever they want to do but then they are going to come back.”
Winslow did touch on the money issue in his interview with Butler. "But at the same time, I'm a competitor. I want to play," Winslow said. "I want my money even though it's not all about the money. It's still a business. So if these owners are going to get paid, I want my fair share as well. It keeps going back to jus the dynamic of players want more money and owners want more money so how can we do this without killing each other or knocking each other down or being disrespectful."
Winslow said he felt like the players agreed to return to play, but not necessarily to everything laid out in the health and safety protocol measures released on June 16. "I think when we agreed to this as players, we agreed to come back. We didn't necessarily agree to be in a bubble, be on lockdown, to not have our families, to be exposed to the virus, to have all these workers around," Winslow said. "We didn't agree to all that. We agreed to come back and play. It's up to the league and [National Basketball Players Association] to figure out the best way. It's still a little iffy. I don't know if it's the smartest thing for us to come back and play right now. I love to continue to fight this fight for social injustice and these other things, but to be completely honest, I'm a little iffy about Orlando.”
As the NBA attempts to restart its season despite rising cases of COVID-19 and rising numbers of hospitalizations because of the disease, it has placed an emphasis on being able to quickly discover and track the illness in players. One device the league is planning to make available for players in Orlando, Fla., is a ring that has sensors that measure different bodily functions. The ring, produced by the company Oura, isn’t foreign to NBA circles. At least not in Los Angeles.
Judy Seto, the Lakers’ director of sports performance, wears one. In an interview that took place in February, Seto removed the titanium ring to show the glowing inside where sensors could detect different happenings in her body. “The electronics of this one is similar to a Fitbit but it’s a little bit more accurate,” Seto said. “… I can get it wet. I can have impact on it and it doesn’t catch on anything. This tells me how long did it take for me to fall asleep. It tells me sleep cycles. Light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep. How much did I get. Did I stay asleep or did I toss and turn at night? Gives me feedback of, ‘Hmm saw that you went to bed a little late or you kept on waking up at night. Is something bothering you?’ Your body temperature’s elevated, are you feeling well? Maybe you’re getting a little under the weather.”
The Lakers do not collect data acquired in these rings. They simply offer them as an option for players. And before the pandemic, the main goal was to use it to identify sleep patterns. “Some do,” Seto said, when asked in February whether players have chosen to wear the ring. “There’s an app on the phone that you can do. There’s also different devices. Some just wear it in the evening. But it’s really individual and it’s education. Instead of trying to be intrusive or controlling, it’s working with them and educating them on it. With our travel schedule, it’s difficult sometimes to get enough sleep, but by educating people and the importance of sleep, hopefully making sleep more of a priority instead of it plays no factor in what we do.”
Silver and the league put together thorough return-to-play health and safety guidelines for the remainder of the season at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Ominous data and modeling for Florida could derail even the most comprehensive of plans – not just for the NBA, but for Major League Baseball, the WNBA and Major League Soccer. COVID-19 cases in Florida are rising – 3,822 new cases on Thursday, setting a daily record, surpassing the previous record (3,207) from the day before.
It’s just not increased testing leading to increased positive tests. The percentage of tests coming back positive has increased, too. The percent of new positive tests in Florida was 10% on Thursday, up from 3.17% on June 5, according to the Florida Department of Health.
According to a disease model by scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, Florida has “all the markings of the next large epicenter ... the risk there is the worst it has ever been in our projections. Miami and Florida’s southeastern counties now join the Tampa/Fort Myers area and Orlando for a fairly widespread transmission event that we forecast will continue throughout the state."
Michael Grange: I’m hearing that as of this moment the Raptors plan remains to gather to train in Naples, Florida (in advance of Orlando) with players filtering in Sunday and Monday. Teams start Covid testing on 23rd (Tues).
One Inter-Miami CF player tested positive for coronavirus. The team has chosen not to identify the player but says he did not experience any symptoms before being tested. The virus also hit the NHL on Friday. The Tampa Bay Lightning is shutting down its facility after several players and staff members tested positive for the virus. In the MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies shut down it's training complex in Clearwater, Florida today after players tested positive. The news, according to a local disease specialist, shouldn't deter the NBA or MLS from re-starting the season in a controlled setting in Orlando next month.
"As long as they are testing players, as long as they are quarantining the players who have been identified as being positive for the virus, and as long as we don't have the audience and don't have folks come to the games. I think the games look bizarre by not having an audience, but [the hub] provides a nice source of recreation for everybody else," said Kleper De Almeida, a Infectious Disease Specialist in South Florida.
The Warriors star and his wife Ayesha agreed to match up to $50,000 in donations made through June 30 to the USF institute through their own “Eat, Learn, Play” foundation. “This has been the culimination of 400 years of injustices in a system that is not working for all people in this country,” Curry said. “It took a perfect storm of two pandemics at one time to grab everybody’s attention. We’re obviously dealing with COVID and its threat to our society, and that has opened up a conversation and an awareness level for all people. I hope the conversaton continues, and that this isn’t just a moment, but a movement and we find changeable actions where everyone can play their role and play their part.”
Wearable tech devices have generated privacy concerns – perhaps unnecessarily so –in the NBA as the league plans to resume its season in a controlled, campus-like environment at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando. In the NBA’s 108-page health and safety protocols for resumption of the 2019-20 season, players have the option of wearing proximity devices which “will set off an audio alert when the person is within six feet of another person for more than five seconds,” and ring data monitors, which “may be relevant to the assessment of COVID-19 (e.g., heart rate, heart rate variability, etc.).”
The National Basketball Players Association called them Oura rings in its health summary, but the NBA did not name Oura as the brand in its document. Some players on Twitter and agents expressed concerns about tracking and personal data.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma tweeted, “Looks like a tracking device.” "Does Adam Silver wear one with us while we’re all in there,” Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie asked on Twitter. To be clear though, these devices are optional – an issue that has been collectively bargained between the league and the NBPA.
NBA Central: Justise Winslow sends shots at the NBA and NBPA for only caring about money pic.twitter.com/PFXxufValX
This is what Parham does for a living. His job is to reach people, often professional athletes. Parham is a licensed psychologist and the counseling professor in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. Before he took the position with the NBPA, he was a consulting psychologist for the Los Angeles Lakers and worked with the NBA, NFL and several U.S. Olympic teams for years. Parham is also Black. This detail provides important context in an NBA community filled with white leaders and the surrounding racial crisis in America. The NBPA represents a player pool that is approximately 81 percent Black, but that ratio dips precipitously the higher you climb on the NBA’s ladder of power.
As players waited for and eventually news on the NBA’s return to play, Parham and Dooling have been receiving texts from players directly on a regular basis. Parham hears from agents looking for resources to help mentally manage the crises at hand and sends out written newsletters to players with words of advice and links to explore.
“There’s certainly a fair amount of anxiety, depression, uncertainty, confusion, chaos, disbelief at the extremes, resentment and anger,” Parham continues. “The pandemic, particularly the global nature of it, is unprecedented. There’s no playbook for this.”
Parham thinks there will be some fear of the unknown and stress from the restrictions, but he expects the actual basketball to provide a rush of positive force upon arrival. “I think there’s going to be an emotional release from these guys, in a healthy way,” Parham says. “This notion that they’re going to be doing that which they love to be doing since they’ve been little boys at the playground.”
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s release of the 113-page manual detailing the guidelines for the bubble, franchises are scrambling to make decisions. If you’re at an NBA practice facility these days, you’re likely taking in the strange sight of masked coaches, rebounding for players while wearing gloves. A couple coaches I know are wearing batting gloves during these drills, because, why not?
He — like the group of NBA players headed most notably by Irving — is worried about the safety and viability of the NBA returning while COVID-19 continues to spread and disproportionately affect Black communities. "Coming back is problematic," he said. "I’m more concerned about the impact of trying to return to some semblance of normal in a situation where normalcy, by definition under these circumstances are highly toxic."
The most important part of the new procedures is testing for the novel coronavirus, which the NBA plans for the evenings in order to reduce how much people will move between the time their test is taken and when it is returned. The tests are expected to include nasal swabs and saliva collection. Anyone who refuses to be tested, or undergo the daily health monitoring that includes temperature and symptoms, will be prohibited from team and group activities until they are tested. Those who test positive and do not require hospitalization will be isolated immediately until they can be retested.
Now it’s 9:40 p.m., the game is over, and reminders of the new realities of campus life are everywhere. Few players change out of uniform because showers are not permitted inside the sports complex. Then it’s time to speak with reporters. A few attend the postgame availability in person, at an appropriate distance of at least six feet. The NBA has allowed a handful of journalists to reside on the Disney campus. Others journalists, even those who reside off campus and can watch games from the stands, ask questions on a virtual news conference. At least one other teammate must also take part in postgame interviews.
Marc Stein: Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic will be back in Dallas "in the next few days," Mavs owner Mark Cuban tells @NYTSports. Porzingis posted an IG story yesterday indicating he is already en route ... with teams leaguewide scheduled to begin coronavirus testing of players Tuesday
Mike Vorkunov: Florida reported 3,207 new coronavirus cases today (a 15% jump from the previous high Tue). The positive rate was 12.5%. There were 316 new cases in Orange County (where Orlando is). Previous high had been 182 Tue. Stark increase in health metrics in Orange Co. last two weeks👇
One of the tools the NBA will use with players is a “smart ring” that players will wear during their time at Disney World. The ring can measure body temperature, respiratory functions and heart rate, which are all things that can signal whether or not someone is sick. All players and essential staff members will be given the option to participate in health monitoring using the ring. The titanium rings, reportedly made by Oura, are capable of predicting COVID-19 symptoms up to three days in advance with 90% accuracy, according to the company.
Players will also be given access to a MagicBand that they will be required to wear at all times, except during workouts and games. The Disney MagicBand will act as a hotel room key and let players check in at security checkpoints and coronavirus screenings. It’s similar to the device of the same name that Disney World guests can use for access to hotels and payments for food and gifts inside the park. The MagicBands can also help the league with contact tracing. The league is investigating a way to use the bands to know if a player diagnosed with Covid-19 has come into contact with another player.
According to league sources, the issue is based on insurance policies taken out by the players that would run out at the traditional end of the NBA year, June 30. Word is there are ongoing talks between representatives of the players and the league, but it’s expected that Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and others will eventually be on the courts at the Disney complex.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said 260 workers at the Orlando International Airport have tested positive for the coronavirus after nearly 500 employees were tested but according to the airport management that’s not the case. “[An]airport in Central Florida had a couple of cases, they did the contact tracing,” DeSantis said Tuesday during a news conference. “They looked [at] almost 500 workers [and] 260 people working close together were positive, 52 percent positivity rate on that one.”
Squawk Box: "I wasn't happy with the fact that there wasn't a lot of management of people's expectations," says @mcuban on how Texas is handling re-opening. "If we're going to stay open, we're really going to have to take steps to make sure businesses enforce the requirements for masks." Brad Townsend: “We had a scare here in our house.” Cuban says his daughter attended a grad party at which “a bunch of kids” got COVID-19. Cuban’s daughter tested negative.
Take-Two didn’t respond to a request for comment, but company chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick in an earnings call included some insight into how the pandemic has affected sales and game play. “Consumer engagement with NBA 2K remained at record levels throughout fiscal 2020, with daily active users growing 13 percent and MyTeam users increasing nearly 50 percent. During the fourth quarter over 9 million hours of NBA 2K game-play were watched on Twitch across more than 1,100 channels, representing a 40 percent increase over the third quarter,” Zelnick said.
Mark Medina: Per NBA's 113-page health & safety protocol: On June 23 each player & essential staff member will take a PCR & antibody test. PCR testing will be repeated every other day & antibody testing will be repeated if there is a positive test.
“Regular” testing will continue in Orlando during Phase 3 (July 1 to July 9-11), increased in Phase 4 (July 9-11 to July 21) and be in place through the Restart Phase (July 30 to the last possible end date of Oct. 13). The NBA will create the “League Health Platform” to register test results and monitor symptoms, temperatures and other screenings for everyone in the campus. Each campus member will be provided a “Smart Thermometer,” which will record the individual’s temperature into the League Health Platform. The NBA will also supply each campus member with a pulse oximeter to take blood oxygen saturation levels on a daily basis and record in the League Health Platform.
Once someone tests positive for the virus, the protocol lays out a several-step process that person will have to go through: They will be placed in "Isolation Housing," which will be a house, hotel or other facility that is different from the individual's previous hotel room, at a location in which no individuals who have not tested positive are residing.
Zach Lowe: The NBA health protocols concede maintaining 6 feet of distance during card games "may not be practicable," and require anyone playing cards indoors wear masks. Players/staff must dispose of the deck at the end of each game/session. "Sufficient packs of cards will be available."
Dave McMenamin: Starting June 23, players who have been working out at private gyms will be prohibited without prior NBA approval. Several Lakers, LeBron included, spent the majority of their hiatus playing on private courts rather than at the facility, where there are restrictions in place.
Teams are encouraged to bring a mental health professional (it can be the team clinician) with their travel party. If they choose not to, teams must make telehealth appointments available, particularly if "any player experiences increased feelings of anxiety and stress upon transitioning to the campus and being away from household family members." As teams advance in the playoffs, they will be allowed to add and swap out members of the travel party. Teams can add two staffers after advancing past the first round of the playoffs and two more after the conference semifinals. That is something multiple coaches pushed the league to adopt, sources told ESPN.
Malika Andrews: In a hygiene section, the league asks that players avoid the following (general ickiness) in games and practice: +spitting or clearing their nose on the court +wiping the ball with their jersey +licking their hands +playing with or unnecessarily touching their mouth guard.
August 18, 2022 | 2:54 am EDT Update
The Lakers remain active in trade talks and would part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in the right deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in an appearance on Sports Center (video link). Those picks “have a lot of value in the marketplace” if they’re unprotected, Wojnarowski states. He adds that L.A. would be willing to give them up in a trade for Kyrie Irving, but the Nets haven’t been interested.
Those around the team were confident that James signing an extension was likely, considering how much he’s enjoyed playing for the Lakers and living in Los Angeles. The primary complication in James’ decision was that he has been privately adamant that the Lakers still need to improve the current roster and trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, league sources have told The Athletic.
The Lakers have explored runs at Nets point guard Kyrie Irving ($36.9 million expiring contract), but it’s unclear if Brooklyn would want to include Joe Harris’ $19.9 million salary for 2023-24 as well. The Pacers have Buddy Hield, a former client of Lakers executive Rob Pelinka, at $18.6-23.3 million for next season (depending on incentives). Los Angeles has also explored a deal for Pacers center Myles Turner with the expectation that he would extend or re-sign beyond his current $17.5-20 million salary for 2022-23.
Per several sources connected to teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers have not been willing to part with significant draft capital to get off Westbrook’s contract. But that may have been tied to uncertainty surrounding James’ future, which is now put to rest.
The sense from those sources: Westbrook will have a new home when the Lakers green-light trades that include both their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders. What’s still unclear is whether L.A. will be willing to do so.
Rob Pelinka has been “very active” in attempting to add more shooting and size to the Los Angeles Lakers roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN. “Rob Pelinka has still been very active, even in the dog days of August. He’s been on the phone a lot, he’s still trying to find deals to bring in more shooting, perhaps some size. And so I think those conversations continue all the way into training camp,” said Wojnarowski on NBA Today.
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.