Mike Vorkunov: Patrick Ewing told SiriusXM NBA Radio he…

Mike Vorkunov: Patrick Ewing told SiriusXM NBA Radio he’s feeling good after recovering from COVID-19. Said he had a fever, weakness, and shortness of breath. “I was doing everything that was being said — wearing my mask, social distance, keep away from others — and I still caught it.”

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One day in mid-May, the NBA emailed. They wanted to talk. Robby Sikka, vice president of basketball performance and technology for the Minnesota Timberwolves and a physician, sent the note, sparking a month of Zoom meetings and collaborative calls that occasionally stretched into the early hours of morning. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association — busy plotting out the logistics of a potential return to competition — soon hatched a plan with Yale researchers to verify their saliva-based test, which is called SalivaDirect.
Frequent testing — and the infrastructure to support it — presents an enticing research opportunity for scientists. The partnership allows NBA players, coaches and staff who opt-in to supplement their required testing regimen with an extra step that will help bring SalivaDirect closer to public use. Grubaugh said that their team is preparing to apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration with the goal of making the test ready for public use by as early as mid-July. Comparing saliva test results to those that originate from the NBA’s regular testing will help validate the effectiveness of SalivaDirect.
When play resumes a month from now at Walt Disney World, NBA players will have the option of wearing an Oura Ring. The rings track heart and respiratory rate, as well as temperature and sleep patterns. The hope is that they can be an additional line of defense against the spread of COVID-19.
Axios spoke with Oura CEO Harpreet Singh Rai to learn more about the product and why the NBA sought them out as a partner. How does this technology work? "Put simply, we help people understand and improve their health by focusing on better sleep. Consumers are given three scores: sleep, activity and readiness. And it's that readiness score that's really meant to tell users how they're feeling. The most important data we collect is temperature, which we can capture on the finger, but you don't see it on the wrist. That's one of the key reasons why the NBA isn't partnering with, say, Apple or Whoop."
How will you handle privacy concerns? Harpreet Singh Rai: "We're working with the NBA, NBPA, Excel Sports and CAA to make sure everyone feels comfortable. Think about it — we're tracking sleep, so a coach could ostensibly see that a player only got two hours of sleep the night before a game and decide not to start him. To ensure that doesn't happen, most of the data isn't being shared. The league and union only see something called a Risk Score, which combines heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature and respiratory rate. If the Risk Score is high enough, a team doctor is alerted and can test the player.”
Fournier believes the NBA's safety protocols, which also include regular testing, should offer enough protection. "For the NBA to take such a risk by resuming the season, the measures will be maximum," Fournier said. "They will make our lives easier so that we do not have to ask questions and make us feel safe every day." Fournier is also reassured by NBA pledges to subject Disney World staff to additional testing. "That's good," he said. "Honestly at first, the measures planned for them were nonsense."
Melissa Rohlin: Rob Pelinka said the goal of the restart is: "Can we create an environment there that is safer than an environment just in the real world." He added that the spikes in Florida are "daunting." "But the whole purpose of creating this environment is not have the virus be there."
Harrison Faigen: Rob Pelinka on the central question facing the restart. "Can we create an environment there that is safer than the real world?" He says that he has "a high level of confidence" in the plans from the NBA. He says they'll also continually gauge how comfortable their players are.
Even prior to these positive tests, some Nets players -- like others on several NBA teams -- discussed the possibility of sitting out the restart in Orlando, sources said. As the Nets lose more players, it perhaps becomes easier for other key players to decide that there isn't a compelling competitive reason to travel and play.
Even prior to these positive tests, some Nets players -- like others on several NBA teams -- discussed the possibility of sitting out the restart in Orlando, sources said. As the Nets lose more players, it perhaps becomes easier for other key players to decide that there isn't a compelling competitive reason to travel and play.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Two Brooklyn Nets have tested positive for the coronavirus -- Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie. Jordan has opted-out of Orlando, and Dinwiddie is strongly considering the same. Nets will sign a substitute for Jordan, per sources. Nets are presently the seventh seed in East.
“Originally, we were supposed to be one of the teams to enter into the Orlando bubble early, but training camp got switched back to New York and unfortunately I am now positive. Given that I have experienced symptoms, including fever and chest tightness, it is unclear on whether or not I’ll be able to participate in Orlando. “Hindsight is 20/20.”
VanVleet is cut from a different cloth, though, and he cannot fake it, nor does he have any desire to do so. The Raptors are the only team meeting away from their home base, given Canada’s 14-day quarantine rule, and since the league’s restart will take place on the Disney campus in Orlando, they felt it best to meet beforehand in nearby Naples. On Saturday, Florida reported a record 9,585 new cases of COVID-19. “It sounded good a month or two ago,” VanVleet said on Monday about the league’s planned return to play. “Not so much right before we got ready to leave.”
The Raptors have made their settings in Naples as safe as possible, training at Florida Gulf Coast University in small groups and living in a hotel that opened only for the Raptors, and will house only the Raptors for the duration of their stay until next week, when they head to Orlando. VanVleet said he was the first player to arrive, and it was very strange being one of only five or so people staying in a hotel. The Raptors have 45 people in Naples, with only 37 of them allowed in the bubble in Orlando.
Ujiri and VanVleet said everyone is wearing masks indoors when not in their individual rooms. Players and staff are being tested for COVID-19 approximately every other day or so. Routines are different for everybody, but the idea is that those routines will become normal after enough repetition. VanVleet’s currently consists of waking up early — he works out early in morning — and heading back to his room where he plays plenty of video games, video chats with his family, and picks up the dinner provided for him. VanVleet said he is planning to have his family enter the bubble when it becomes possible, after the first round of the playoffs at the start of September, but he will re-evaluate that plan after having been in the Disney campus for some time. “I’ve been gone a week and I miss my kids already,” VanVleet said.
“It sucks. It sucks, man. It’s terrible timing. But that’s been 2020 for us,” VanVleet said. “We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense. But life goes on. We’re all young, Black guys. None of us want to give any money (from their salaries) back. I don’t think that we should. I think that money can be used in a number of different ways. This is not going to end this summer regardless, or over the next couple of months. This issue, racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all these things are not ending anytime soon. Our fight is long term. That was part of my decision. But if the league, or more of my guys would have come together and said we didn’t want to play, I would have sat out as well. I wouldn’t have even fought it. I think most of us decided to play. It’s something we’ll have to live with. I trust that my heart’s in the right place and I’m doing enough to make change.”
Cuban: “I hope for the NBA and I hope not for other sports, for obvious reasons. I’ve always been a proponent of starting on Christmas Day because that’s when we go to broadcast television. Whether it’s Christmas Day or possibly a little earlier, because part of the thought process is hopefully there’s a vaccine by then, and I’m one of these people that’s very confident that there will be. The science geek in me just reading it thinks that it’s highly likely that there will be. Now the question is the distribution of it and the more time we buy for distribution of the vaccine, the more likely when we start next season there’s an opportunity to not just have some fans but more fans than we otherwise might expect.”
Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler has informed the team that he is opting out of playing in Orlando, Florida. Chandler cited spending more time with his family -- particularly his grandmother, who raised him, and three children -- as the primary reason for sitting out. The Nets will be allowed by the league to add a player to take Chandler's spot.
Rod Beard: NBPA executive director Michele Roberts on positive tests for 16 of 302 players tested: "I'm relieved the number was not higher." Silver: "I was relieved the number came in roughly where we expected it." He says none of the 16 was seriously ill.
Jared Weiss: The NBA is going to have an onsite clinic in partnership with Advent health to treat anyone getting sick and they will work with local hospitals to coordinate care if someone needs to be hospitalized.
Jason Anderson: If a star player tests positive: “We would continue. That team would be down a man. We would treat that positive test as we would an injury during the season, so it would not delay the continuation of the playoffs." -- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
As announced on Wednesday, the NBA and the NBPA have agreed in principle that the goal of the season restart will be to find tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country. Leaders from the NBA and the NBPA have also discussed strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community. In recognition that long-term change can only come from an informed and sustained commitment, conversations regarding these efforts will continue and additional details will be released at a later date.
“We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”
“It is very exciting to officially announce the restart of the 2019-2020 season,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “It has taken true collaboration between the League and the Union – special kudos to our Executive Committee and several other team reps – along with the continued support and assistance from medical experts, public health officials and many others. Additionally, our platform in Orlando presents a unique opportunity to extend the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality in this country. We will continue to work with our players and the League to develop specific plans in Orlando as well as long-term initiatives to bring about real change on these issues.”
“We’re glad to be able to provide a unique venue where the NBA can resume its season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “We look forward to welcoming the players, coaches and staff to Walt Disney World Resort as they prepare for the exciting return of professional basketball.”
Injured Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said if he were fully healthy, he wouldn't participate in the NBA's season restart in Orlando. "I feel, me right now, I probably wouldn't have played because the unknown going into that situation looks crazy right now, seeing so many new cases," Durant said during a recent interview with "Dawg Talk." "It's just so unpredictable. It's easy for me to say right now because I'm injured, but I probably wouldn't have went down there (to Orlando)."
"If the guys feel safe enough to go play, that's cool, I'm with them. If they don't feel like they should go down there and play or don't feel safe, I'm with them too. I'm all about what the group wants," Durant said, before elaborating on why he'd decide to sit out. "Obviously, I would have talked to my teammates and consulted with my guys and actually really went over it for the last month and a half, but me, my gut would have told me nah, I probably wouldn't want to go down there, especially after three months off."
Kellan Olson: Devin Booker confirmed the report of a couple Suns players testing positive for COVID-19 on his stream (twitch.tv/dbook). He said they are getting tested every two days and for today's they came to his house.

Brogdon, who spent a lot of time at St. Vincent Center rehabilitating from a thigh/hip muscle injury during the NBA's hiatus, also has been active in leading social protests after the death of George Floyd. Multiple league sources aren't clear on the league's directives, or if there even is one, regarding positive tests before players arrive in Orlando where they'll go into the "bubble" before resuming play.
The NBA, which hopes to restart the season July 30, says it is offering players a ring whose maker claims it can track a user's health data and might even predict if users are about to show symptoms of coronavirus infection. But there's not much information yet on how well the device, which has embedded electronics, works. The $299 Oura ring is designed to monitor sleep, pulse, movement, heart activity and temperature, according to the company's website.
Long says the potential to study large groups of people to see if there is useful data that can be collected is interesting. "But it does not replace any of the other things we should be doing, and the other steps that the NBA should be doing in terms of protecting their players, protecting their staff," Long said. They should still be doing pools of testing and regular testing -- all of those other things. Just don't let it give us a false sense of security. Don't stop wearing your mask because your Oura ring says you're OK. You know, don't skip testing because everybody's Oura ring says they're fine."
Marc Stein: German basketball's @easyCreditBBL completed its final round of COVID-19 testing today with no positive tests registered by the 10 teams over three weeks of play. The two-legged tournament championship tournament pits @MHP_RIESEN against @albaberlin on Friday and Sunday

Shams Charania: Kings center Alex Len says he has tested positive for coronavirus. Statement from Len, who emerged as key rotation piece for Sacramento prior to NBA hiatus:
Sara Hodges: According to a source close to the @SacramentoKings at least 4 players have tested positive for COVID-19. The unnamed players will self-isolate for 14 days and will need two negative tests before entering the facility or before heading to Orlando, FL @CBSSacramento
Although league officials have maintained from the start of the N.B.A. shutdown on March 11 that players are supposed to avoid group workouts of any kind, permitting voluntary workouts only in team facilities now that all 30 are open, I’m told that the directives were always intended to be protective rather than punitive.
The state of Florida reported 11,365 new coronavirus cases over three days this past weekend — its three worst days on record. Orange County, home of Walt Disney World, reported 437 on Saturday — more than entire countries once considered epicenters of the pandemic. Test-positive rates topped 15 percent. Seven-day averages surged. And all of that, 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.
Shams Charania: Kings center Alex Len says he has tested positive for coronavirus. Statement from Len, who emerged as key rotation piece for Sacramento prior to NBA hiatus:
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November 27, 2022 | 1:48 pm EST Update