As multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in the final stages o…

As multiple COVID-19 vaccines are in the final stages of approval, reports have circulated about how the NBA plans to approach mandatory or voluntary vaccination for players, coaches and team and league employees. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, also the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, isn’t for a rigid requirement. But he talked before the Mavericks’ preseason opener Saturday about his personal willingness to receive the vaccine.

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What the Warriors need now, besides time, is some help from the outside world. Cases in California leveling out would be ideal. The risk of creating a super-spreader event is too much for the city to allow thousands of fans in any building. And the questions now: Will the Warriors show that their plan is foolproof? Or will the city find a way to accept the risk before a vaccine becomes widespread enough to make it irrelevant? Stone’s optimistic thoughts point toward March. Some estimates have the vaccine reaching much of the general public a few months later. There could be a window between the two when the Warriors’ plan could be approved but before the vaccine fully arrives: the NBA playoffs.
After successfully finishing the 2019-20 season in a bubble environment at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, the league -- with the exception of the Toronto Raptors -- is returning to home markets to begin this season. Over the past two weeks, players and coaches spoke about the challenges they face in playing a season as the COVID-19 pandemic surges across the United States. Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns: Everybody involved -- the league, the union, the players, the teams, everybody -- is working daily to try to figure things out. This is uncharted territory. When we were in the bubble it was something no one had ever seen and everyone worked as hard they could to make that work. Once again, what we're doing now with all these protocols and tests and stuff -- never seen it before.
The Utah Jazz are one of the few teams to have announced plans to start the season with fans in the arena, playing host to up to 1,600 attendees, socially distanced from each other and the players. Rudy Gobert: I think that if they make it happen they probably have the scientific evidence that it would be safe for us and for the fans in attendance. Derrick Favors: I think that's an amazing thing to do and hopefully everybody can stick to the safety protocols and we can continue to build and bring more fans in there.
Marc Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers: I'll need a little more explaining how come that some arenas, they allow fans and some arenas don't. I understand there are different laws in different states, but I think we should have the same for everyone. That's just my opinion. But that's what we talked about. Obviously it's an ever-adjusting situation for everyone. We're very fortunate to be in a very safe environment. The NBA, the Lakers and L.A. County, do a great job having us as safe as possible and having a lot of protocols and stuff that we go through every day, and our staff as well. We're very thankful for that.
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: We listen to the experts and what's going on with the climate as far as COVID, and keep your family in a mask when we leave the house or whatever the case may be. And be cautious where we travel to, be cautious who we are around. Right now you just try to do everything that you can to try to protect your family. And hopefully you can stay safe and stay healthy. I think that's the most important thing, the main thing.
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks: During this [pandemic], it's going to be a different season. Some players might get corona, get sick, not be able to be with the team [for] 10 days. So I think that's going to be a big part -- which team is not going to have [COVID-19]-positive people. It's going to be a lot of time together, and I think that's going to be a key.
Adam Mokoka was designated as "not with team" on the official injury report, which Donovan said is due to him traveling in from outside the country. Mokoka is originally from France. "Coming back with COVID and certainly passport those kind of things it's been really challenging. He is in town now," Donovan said of Mokoka, adding that he spoke to him Friday. "There'll be, like the rest of the guys that come in, some protocols and things that he'll have to go through."
Tim MacMahon: The Mavs announce that they will not have fans for their one home preseason game. No definitive timetable has been set on when fans will be allowed in the arena for regular-season games.
Fred Katz: The NBA is planning to administer a daily point-of-care, rapid testing system for the 2020-21 season, sources tell me and @ShamsCharania . Test results expected within approximately 30 minutes in home markets and 90 minutes on the road.
The league is taking, according to sources who’ve heard its discussions with its teams, college and pro football’s position – essentially, we’re going to push through this season, come hell or high water. Football is doing so despite dozens of teenagers getting infected, and numerous college games being canceled. The NFL forges on, despite players being pulled off the field moments before games because of positive tests, or the folly of a team literally not having a quarterback available to play a game. It’s the NFL; it’s incapable of being shamed.
My suspicion is the NBA’s position, writ small, is: could it be wrong to start now? Yes. But it’s worth making a reasonable try at it, and the people who potentially could be the most impacted will also be the most taken care of if they get sick. (While teams fly private, NBA referees will still fly commercial, though the league is trying to put additional safety precautions in place for officials.)
Kyle Goon: Marc Gasol on COVID-19 vaccine: “I would prefer the vaccine goes to the people who need it the most instead of us, but that’s just common sense.” Question by @Brad Turner was only if he would take the vaccine. As far as I know, no push for players to get priority on vaccinations.
“Our fans are the lifeblood of the Suns organization, and we want nothing more than to welcome our fans into our newly transformed arena in Downtown Phoenix. The arduous choice to tip off our promising season without fans did not come easily,” said Phoenix Suns President & CEO Jason Rowley. “However, we are exercising an abundance of caution and doing our part to maintain the health and safety of all our stakeholders during this crisis. That said, we will monitor the best available date and science and continue consulting with health care professionals and public officials to help us determine when it is prudent to bring fans back to the arena.”
According to an array of discussions with league executives, team physicians and agents the league has been focusing on a few key areas: • A need to create an educational program for players and staff about vaccine choices, possible side effects and efficacy with the intent to put players at ease and be willing to take it. While this process is still in the earliest stages, some players have already begun expressing hesitation to their agents and team doctors about the vaccine, sources told ESPN. Educating the players about the measures taken to prevent the virus at the bubble in Orlando proved effective in fostering cooperation.
"I would guess that for most players, they will be willing to take it," said a prominent agent, who represents numerous players. "I think there will be a societal push for as many as possible to take it." Others feel it will be a harder sell. Among the issues, sources said, is numerous players who have had the virus -- and now have some level of antibodies -- may need to be convinced the vaccine is necessary. Between the season restart last summer and the start of this season's training camp, the NBA announced around 100 positive tests for players and staff. But that does not account for the numerous players and coaches who contracted the virus during the shutdown and in the offseason, only a few of whom have elected to publicly self identify.
"We are going to need someone they trust, who is not involved with the league, that can lay it out for the skeptical guys," said another agent who represents All-Stars. "Maybe it's someone like President Obama. To position this to the players as an opportunity to motivate others, which happened with masks."
The need to create a policy for how quickly the league will seek injections. Regardless of its resources, league officials know there are higher-risk populations that take priority including medical-care workers, nursing home residents, essential workers, and others. The NBA aims to respect whatever guidelines and criteria are enforced by the government and medical agencies concerning which populations will receive a vaccine early, sources said. With that said, league sources say the NBA doesn't plan to enforce any specific rules that would prohibit an individual from trying to obtain a vaccine if they wanted one while it's available. Even if that would mean some players and teams might get access to the vaccine earlier than peers who play and live in another city. League executives are already recognizing this type of policy could lead to a competitive balance issue at some point if some teams have the chance to be inoculated before others.
Numerous teams have close connections to top healthcare providers in their regions and the availability of shots could vary depending on the home state or region of the country. How distribution might play out is still being determined by local governments. The Wall Street Journal reported on Dec. 6 that some health officials support early vaccination for professional athletes to demonstrate its effectiveness and safety in a high-profile manner.
Crowder said Wednesday was his first full practice with the team and that he was previously attending to a personal problem that is now taken care of. When asked if he had any COVID-19 issues, Crowder said no and thanked the organization for letting him get done what he had to get done. “Happy to be back working, getting prepared for this season,” he said.
While the NBA expects positive COVID-19 cases throughout the 2020-21 season, league sources told ESPN there isn't a specific number of positive cases or a precise scenario that could cause a game to be canceled or postponed. In conjunction with league and team health officials, the NBA will consider several variables, including the nature of the positive cases and when, where and how they happened. For instance, teams could have a similar number of positive COVID-19 cases but differing circumstances for the total, such as potential spread in a facility or isolated cases at home, leading to the NBA's reluctance to create a fixed number that would lead to play being suspended on a given night.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: My life is at risk. Not just because I’m 73 with the usual annoying aches and pains that accompany age, but because I’m tall and I’m Black. At 7 feet, 2 inches, I’m statistically more prone to blood clots, lower back and hip problems, higher risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer, atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder), and a shorter life span in general. Being Black means I’m more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart problems, obesity, cancer, and a shorter life in general. Yup, tall people and Black people have shorter life expectancies. So far, in keeping with these statistical risks, I’ve had prostate cancer, leukemia, and heart bypass surgery.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: I’ve been fortunate because my celebrity has brought me enough financial security to receive excellent medical attention. No one wants an NBA legend dying on their watch. Imagine the Yelp reviews. I’m also lucky that one of my sons is an orthopedic surgeon and another is a hospital administrator. Dad gets to nag them for medical advice whenever he wants. But while I’m grateful for my advantages, I’m acutely aware that many others in the Black community do not have the same options and that it is my responsibility to join with those fighting to change that. “Because Black lives are at risk. Serious risk.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how malignant the system is. The virus has hit the African American community at a much higher and more devastating rate than it has the white community. At the same time, they receive a lower standard of care. The death rate for Blacks is 3.6 times higher than for whites. But in predominantly Black counties, the infection rate is three times higher and the death rate is six times higher than in predominantly white counties. Other marginalized people of color are also suffering: nationally, hospitalization rates are five times higher for Native Americans and African Americans and four times higher for Latinx. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report released August 14, 2020, concluded that in 79 hot spot counties in the U.S. that had information about race, 96.2% showed racial disparity in COVID-19 cases.
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA coaches are no longer required to wear a sports coats during games, sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me. Coaches must wear business attire (no track pants during games). Coaches must wear facemasks during games, sources said.
The NBA and NBCA also agreed to continue the practice of more casual game attire, no longer requiring coaches to wear sports jackets, sources said. Coaches voted more than 2-to-1, sources said, to allow for wearing polo shirts in games. Coaches must wear business attire, such as dress shirts, pants, socks and shoes, sources said. The NBA will disallow sweat-pants and jogging pants.
Despite that broader purview, employment law experts told ESPN the review process and unilateral prohibitions on attendance could run afoul of employment discrimination laws. Several argued that in setting up what turned out to be a secure bubble, the NBA had reduced risk to the point that the choice of attending should be left up to individuals.
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr said the Warriors' two players who return from COVID quarantine will need "several days" before being cleared to practice: "I know there's some kind of a cardiogram, a heart monitor testing because of the nature of the virus."
Jason Quick: Terry Stotts says one of the three positive tests in Blazers organization was a player. Plan is for team to have first practice Tuesday. Three players will be unavailable: the player who tested positive, Zach Collins (ankle), and Jusuf Nurkic, who just arrived Sunday.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Three members of Raptors organization test positive for Covid-19. pic.twitter.com/3yFEXNMZf4

http://twitter.com/wojespn/status/1335992982038786050
Plenty of extra protocols will be in place for the Knicks road trips, according to sources. The players are expected to handle their own luggage at all times — a departure from the norm. The Post also has learned the team bus to the arenas can hold up to 12 people. That means as many as four buses may be needed to schlep coaches, trainers and players to the arena.
The Knicks will spend a lot of time on the road at the pandemic season’s outset — which means MSG Network’s Hall-of-Fame broadcast tandem of Mike Breen and Walt Frazier may not be around the club much. According to a source, Breen and Frazier are unlikely to make road trips — at least early on, according to industry sources. In fact, the NBA is leaning toward not having visiting team’s broadcasters travel to road contests.
Though the NBA has made no final decision, it is expected Breen and Frazier, under league rules, will broadcast road games from either a New York studio or their home. Considered the NBA’s most elite announcing duo, Breen and Frazier are permitted to broadcast home games from the Garden but not from their usual courtside table. Instead, they likely will be perched 30 feet above the court.
The NBA has warned teams that protocol violations that lead to coronavirus spread impacting opposing teams and causing schedule derailments could result in "fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices and game forfeitures," according to a memo obtained by ESPN. For players violating safety protocols this season, the league warns that the possibility of in-season quarantine and reduced paychecks loom as possibilities. While the memo doesn't outline the length of quarantines, it says that any such player "may be subject to a proportionate adjustment to pay for any games missed during the period that the player is in quarantine and undergoing testing due to engaging in such activities and/or conduct."
At home, players and staff are forbidden to enter bars, lounges or clubs, attend live entertainment or game venues, or visit public gyms, spas, pool areas or large indoor social gatherings that exceed 15 people, the memo said. Violations will include possible disciplinary action by teams or the league, including warnings, educational sessions, fines and suspensions. What's more, teams could be punished for failing to comply and for failing to report any "potential or actual violation, and/or any discipline imposed by the team for such violation." If teams are found to repeatedly violate the protocols, they could be subject to "enhanced discipline."
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA shared an additional Health and Safety guide w/ teams -- this time, 158 pages -- allowing for team/player dining at "approved restaurants" on trips, outdoor dining, or indoor restaurant in "fully privatized space," according to document obtained by ESPN. Details, details.
Tim Bontemps: In its updated Health and Safety Protocols, the NBA has included guidance on what punishments will be for breaking the protocol. For players and staff, options are fines, suspensions and potentially required training sessions.
Tim Bontemps: In the NBA's updated Health and Safety Protocol, the league also says that violations that lead to COVID-19 spread that causes schedule adjustments, or impacts other teams, could result in, "fines, suspensions, adjustment or loss of draft choices, and/or game forfeiture."
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA will also provide twice-a-week testing for household members of players and staff, memo says. League is encouraging that to "enhance their protection throughout the season."
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August 10, 2022 | 4:20 am EDT Update

LeBron James has productive, informative meeting with Rob Pelinka, Darvin Ham

James is finalizing a destination to host the team’s annual minicamp prior to training camp, with San Diego being the likely landing space over Las Vegas, sources said. He’s hoping to build a better rapport with teammates before entering the 2022-23 season. The meeting was deemed productive and informative. Pelinka made his feelings clear that he wants James to retire as a Laker and promised to provide him with every resource possible to compete for a championship each year he’s with the organization, sources said.
And while contract dialogue was broached, the majority of the hour-long meeting was about expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure, league sources told Yahoo Sports. James, sources said, drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion, noting that last season’s team didn’t give themselves a chance on many nights. The focus for the future Hall of Famer is competing every night in order to give themselves a chance to compete for a championship.
Do you get the sense that the Lakers are trying to make two separate trades using the firsts? One with Westbrook and one with Horton-Tucker/Nunn/etc.? — @crownroyalpapi_ Jovan Buha: Yes, insofar as I think the ultimate price to trade Westbrook will include attaching two first-round picks. If the Lakers can finagle an alternate outcome — be it a pick swap or two second-round picks — that’s a win for them, in my opinion. That seems unlikely, though, which is why there’s a possibility Westbrook isn’t traded. Between the two trades mentioned, the Lakers would prefer the Irving option. I think that’s a deal they’d eventually be willing to include two first-round picks for. I don’t think they’d be willing to do so in the Indiana deal.

Kyrie Irving agent: 'Kyrie does not hate Steve Nash nor Sean Marks'

Nets star Kyrie Irving wants to make it clear he does not hate coach Steve Nash or general manager Sean Marks despite what a source told The Post about his feelings Monday. “I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean. That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance,” his agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told The Post.
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