Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA has informed teams that infectious disease and public health experts advising the league has concluded, consistent with FDA, that the new Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are “safe and effective,” league tells teams in a memo obtained by ESPN.
Shams Charania: Sources: Two new NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 558 tested since Dec. 16.
Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra, on COVID control becoming a part of everyone's business on the staff, "It's been much more of a demand of everybody in this business." Notes how trainer Jay Sabol is basically working in the garage, clearing players to enter the building.
“It’s every day for us, and I know you wake up and you’re waiting for test results, and we’re testing all the time and talking to our guys about the safety of everyone, but a lot of this stuff is possibly inevitable,’’ Donovan said Wednesday in a Zoom call. “From our standpoint, you have to deal with what it is you’re dealing with, with people being out, but this is something that’s going to be going on for quite some time. And it makes it very, very challenging.”
“It’s not even necessarily people testing positive,’’ Donovan said. “A lot of it is the contact tracing and someone that maybe was exposed to someone that is infected. I’ve talked to our players about the safety part of it, but they also have to keep themselves ready. You can have a guy that’s completely out of the rotation, then for the next two or three weeks, he can be completely in the rotation. We have to do a good job, players and coaches, of making sure we’re all staying ready.’’
To account for that risk, the NBA and the players' association drew up a short list of approved restaurants that agreed to conform to specific rules and regulations. The restaurant must have outdoor space or a secure private room that doesn't share air space with the rest of the establishment. Servers must wear masks and faceguards, maintain a distance of 6 feet and be in the same room with players and coaches only when absolutely necessary. There must be a secure entrance and exit path to limit exposure to the restaurant staff and other diners.
The Memphis Grizzlies reached out to nine-time James Beard-nominated chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman to see whether they'd be interested in having their restaurants go through the vetting process. The Memphis natives and Grizzlies fanatics -- who have been shuttling caprese salads curbside to Grizzlies players on their way home for years, and count cooking for Gregg Popovich a career achievement -- jumped at the opportunity. "Being on that list was important to us," Hudman told ESPN. "Our whole goal was to make Memphis great. When these guys come to town to have a great place to eat. We'll have the ability to do just about anything they ask."
Many of the restaurants on the list are old downtown standbys -- lots of steakhouses and classic Italian joints, and a few Italian steakhouses -- some in team hotels and/or in close proximity to the arena. Rockets owner and restaurateur Tilman Fertitta occupies two of the four spots in foodie-hotbed Houston. Other Fertitta holdings, Morton's Steakhouse and Del Frisco's Grille, have multiple locations in the catalog.
Jeff Zillgitt: Houston star James Harden is in a four-day quarantine, which began on Tuesday, so it appears Harden will be available for Saturday's game against Portland, I'm told.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Rockets guard James Harden will be required to isolate until Friday and continue to test negative for the coronavirus before being cleared to return to play, sources tell ESPN. He should be available to play Saturday vs Blazers.
Salters: Right after you tested positive, there was a lot made about the mic touching in the press conference. What do you want people to know about that? Gobert: That it came from a good intention. It was the first day that we found out that the media was not going to be able to interview us, right next to us, and, you know, we obviously didn't know as much as we know now, and I only did that to try to liven the mood a little bit. It was, of course, if I could go back in time, I wouldn't do it.
Salters: There were a lot of questions about you and Donovan [Mitchell]. How was your relationship? He may have felt some kind of way because he also tested positive for the coronavirus. How did you and Donovan work that out? Gobert: When you look back at it, there was a lot of fear. It was a situation that was really unusual for every single person on this planet. We had conversations as grown men, and we told each other what we had on our minds. And the end of the conversation was that our goal was to win a championship together and, you know, I thought it was really mature from both of us to come out of the conversation like that. I said many times, relationships are never perfect. There is some up, there is some down, but as long as you stay true to one another, you stay honest and respectful to people around you, that it's really about being the best you can be.
Marc Stein: No suspension for Harden. I'm told the timeline for him to rejoin the Rockets, in terms of how many more negative coronavirus tests he may have to register, is still TBD. @ramonashelburne reported earlier today that Harden registered negative tests Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Marc Stein: Harden was not suspended in addition to the fine because violating the league's health and safety guidelines invokes an additional quarantine period for players. The extra quarantine mandates those players will be docked game checks for any games missed while they are held out.
Marc Stein: Harden, in other words, was fortunate tonight. He would have lost an additional $284,517 but saved that amount when Houston's game was postponed. Lou Williams, remember, was not suspended in the bubble for violating protocols but lost 2 game checks completing his extra quarantine.
Marc Stein: Update: Sources say NBA is docking 1/72 of a player’s salary for each game missed due to a violation of the league’s COVID protocols. So James Harden would have lost $567,000 had Houston played tonight. He will forfeit that amount if he misses any games due to future violations.
Marc Stein: When a player is suspended by the NBA, they are docked 1/145 of THEIR SALARY for each game missed. So the financial penalty for violating COVID guidelines is essentially twice as harsh. Houston’s next game is Saturday at Portland. League has not yet ruled on Harden’s availability.
Doug Smith: There was an inconclusive test for someone in Norm Powell's circle of friends/family, Nick Nurse just told us. It has been resolved and Powell is cleared to play tonight
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder game is in jeopardy of postponement tonight, sources tell ESPN. No final word yet.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Another Rockets player whose status is uncertain tonight pending contact tracing protocols: two-way rookie guard Mason Jones, sources tell ESPN.
Tim MacMahon: New Rockets additions to official NBA injury report: Out: Kenyon Martin Jr. (Not With Team -- Self Isolating) Questionable: DeMarcus Cousins (right ankle sprain)
Sam Amick: A clarification, since there's A LOT happening in Houston right now... A source tells @TheAthletic that the contact tracing which is expected to lead to several players not being available tonight against OKC is not tied to James Harden.
Arian Wojnarowski: Rockets C DeMarcus Cousins has tested negative for the coronavirus, source tells ESPN.
Tim MacMahon: Promising rookie forward Jae’Sean Tate is among the group of Rockets sent home due to contact tracing, per source.
Adrian Wojnarowski: As Rockets disclosed yesterday, Ben McLemore is in self-isolation and out for tonight's game vs. OKC. McLemore tested positive for the coronavirus days ago, sources said, and has been in isolation. He isn't the teammate whose positive test initiated contact tracing today on team.
Shams Charania: Several Houston Rockets, including John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and possibly more, are expected to miss tonight's season opener vs. OKC due to coronavirus contact tracing, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
The Mavericks provided no timetable for returning crowds to the arena but said they will continue to work with Dallas County, AAC and NBA officials to “determine the best possible scenario” for a safe option.
As part of the NBA’s daily COVID-19 testing routine, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles returned a positive test Sunday. Immediately he was worried for his family and called his wife Renae and told her to bring the children to the Jazz practice facility to get tested. He was certain that if he had contracted the coronavirus then one of them must have it too and with a 4-year-old son that is immunocompromised, it was a scary day.
“Everyone was negative, the whole family was negative,” Ingles said Tuesday via Zoom. “So I retested again on another rapid (test). That came back negative, so then obviously I was incredibly confused.” Despite the second test, which came back negative, Ingles isolated at a hotel. There was a bit of a mixup with the next round of testing, which was sent to an out-of-state lab.
Tim MacMahon: Rockets guard Ben McLemore is listed as “Not With Team - Self Isolating” on the NBA’s official injury report.
Tim Reynolds: The Heat have told season-ticket holders "that in 2021, we will be together again, in a safe environment, watching Miami Heat basketball at the Heat's house." Translated: No fans at AmericanAirlines Arena until January.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau says there is, essentially, a line of succession plan in place in case someone on staff tests positive for COVID-19, but does not say what. "There is a plan in place for all the possibilities," he said. "And you’re hopeful you don’t have to use it."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Monday that the league will never "jump the line in any form whatsoever" when it comes to its players receiving COVID-19 vaccines and that the league plans to work with the government on public service campaigns to promote the importance of taking a vaccine. "There's no way we'd ever jump the line in any form whatsoever," Silver said. "And, for the most part, because our players are so young and healthy without some sort of comorbidity, they will not be a high priority for vaccinations. There are some other members of the NBA community working on court who are older and will have a higher priority to get the vaccine.
“We know there are going to be challenges and bumps, but so far things are good and we’re optimistic that we have a plan that we can work through those challenges and bumps,” said David Weiss, the N.B.A.’s vice president of player matters. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said: “We won’t be able to eliminate cases and outbreaks. But if we can minimize them, then hopefully it can be as close to a normal season as possible.”
“We expected that the numbers would go down during this first phase of testing, as people started following the protocols,” Weiss said. “At the same time, we know that doesn’t mean that we won’t have cases. We know we’re not in the clear, and we can’t get complacent. We have to stay vigilant with the protocols. That’s how we succeed.”
Peter Edmiston: Grizzlies announce that games at @FedExForum will be played without fans for the foreseeable future, based on discussions with local health officials. Given that Tennessee has the highest covid rate on the planet, that seems wise.
Marc Stein: After allowing a small number of fans into its two home preseason games, Memphis has amended that policy — no fans when the regular season begins. That takes the NBA down to six teams allowing reduced crowds: Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans, Orlando, Toronto (in Tampa, Fla.), Utah.
Getting back on the road for the final two exhibition games, against Washington on Thursday and Saturday, won’t be as easy for the Pistons. There are any number of NBA protocols in place to ensure the safety of teams’ traveling parties, including specific restaurants from which they can order food.
“That's going to be new. I think that's one thing that the league is really conscientious about, the protocols throughout testing,” coach Dwane Casey said Wednesday. “We have to be safe and make sure we wash our hands, keep our masks on and stay socially distant at our hotel. There are people around who you don't know if they've been tested or whatever they're doing. I know the hotel is doing temperature checks and all that going in, but it is a concern and I think that's something we really have to be conscientious about.”
“There's two opponents each night: one is COVID and the other is the opponent you play in basketball,” Casey said. “We have to all make sacrifices and be safe because it takes one person to cause a game cancellation, practice cancellation or close a facility down. So, don't be that guy.”
Chris Mannix: After experiencing zero positive tests among players in the bubble, the NBA has already acknowledged 56 since the league started testing on December 22. And privately league officials have acknowledged that there are likely to be many more to come.
Shams Charania: Sources: One new NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus out of 549 tested since Dec. 10.
The first team to take up residence at the N.B.A. bubble in July was one of the first to be assigned a road trip last week. The Orlando Magic on Thursday afternoon boarded a team flight for the first time since March and made the short journey to Atlanta to jump-start a season like no other. Upon arrival, Orlando’s 47-passenger contingent — including two coronavirus testers — was divided up and ushered onto four separate buses to maximize social distancing. Players were reminded to avoid the hotel gift shop and crowded elevators and were instructed to stay on the hotel property, apart from visits to a nearby Whole Foods Market. “I don’t know if it’s going to be like that all season long,” Orlando’s Evan Fournier said in a phone interview. “I still don’t know what I’m really allowed to do. I guess that’s what the preseason is for.”
Dress rehearsals, for a league adjusting to new realities, are indeed underway. Tuesday marked Day 5 for the N.B.A.’s rapid-fire exhibition schedule — with a countdown clock in the bottom left-hand corner of NBA TV, the league’s official channel, offering repeated reminders that next Tuesday’s opening night for the 2020-21 season is fast approaching. As Fournier noted, N.B.A. teams are trying to make road life as restrictive as possible, hoping to keep their traveling parties safe with the coronavirus still surging across the country. It’s way too soon to say the league’s measures are working, when leaguewide travel has just begun, but Fournier sounded refreshingly hopeful when we spoke, saying he feels safe given the players’ daily testing, combined with as many old bubble practices as teams are able to replicate now that they’re on the move.
“It’s so much better than just being in the bubble, in my opinion, because we actually get to travel and play in real arenas,” Fournier said. You can understand the sentiment. Everyone who plays and works in the league knows that the restricted-access village erected by the N.B.A. at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., was by far the safest way to conduct business and finish the 2019-20 season, but no one wanted to do it again because of the mental-health toll exacted by long stays behind Disney’s gates, cut off from the outside world.
Members of the news media are not allowed to get anywhere near the floor or the two teams, as we used to, but I don’t think I will be able to stay home after getting Fournier’s description of the State Farm Arena scene for the Magic’s 116-112 victory over the Hawks in the teams’ Friday exhibition. “It was really fun, actually,” Fournier said. “I didn’t really pay attention to the empty seats. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just because I was so happy to be out there.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue says Chauncey Billups and Reggie Jackson are back with team after they had excused absences from Sunday's game due to health and safety protocols.
Tim Reynolds: Raptors announce plans for "fewer than 3,200 seats available for the pre-season game, and 3,800 seats for regular-season games" in Tampa. No floor seats, no seats sold within 30 feet of the court. Very similar to what the Magic announced yesterday.
According to sources, having even a limited amount of media would force the Garden to hire extra staffers and put them at risk. The Knicks’ home opener is against the 76ers on Dec. 26 and the media ban could still be in place.
Chris Haynes: Yahoo Sources: Chicago Bulls forward Noah Vonleh has tested positive for COVID-19 and begins mandatory 10-day quarantine. He will be waived. I’m told he is feeling good overall.
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.
“The NBA will certainly research it thoroughly,” Carlisle said. “Coming off the success of [the 2019-20 season restart near] Orlando and all that, I don’t think there’s any reason to question the data that they come up with because they research everything very, very thoroughly.”
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.
August 13, 2022 | 2:04 am EDT Update
ClutchPoints: “From what I’m told, the two former teammates are back on good terms now despite [James] Harden forcing his way out of Brooklyn.” @ramonashelburne on the Sixers’ reported interest in trading for Kevin Durant.
After speaking with children during the Jr. Celtics camp, Grant Williams was asked how he felt about the trade rumors involving Brown. Williams responded by talking about the business side of the NBA while also praising Brown’s mindset and value as a player. “I feel like JB is mature in his mindset, and he knows that. I talk to him, texted him, reach out of as often as I can. It’s one of those things. It’s the league. It’s a business. It’s one of those things that you can’t be discouraged by because we love JB. It also shows how valuable he is.”
Obviously, Durant is one of the greatest players of all time. Williams explained that Brown having his name mentioned as the potential centerpiece in a deal for Durant just shows how great the Celtics star is. “It kind of shows how valuable he is. The fact that, top-10 player in the world, you’re the focal point. It’s one of those things, I remember, back in the day with Al Jefferson and KG [Kevin Garnett]. It’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘oh dang, Al Jefferson.’ It’s not even like a difference,” said Williams.
“I think he’s going to approach it even better. He’s going to take it with a competitive mindset, too. So, if it doesn’t work out, which, I don’t know what it is or not, I’m not involved in none of those processes,” stated Williams. “But I think that he’s going to come back with a chip on his shoulder, and I love that. Because I know how JB responds, and he’s going to be very, very, very, very secure because he’s secure of himself and he’s secure of what he’s going to be.”
Green then admitted that it’s usually him who takes the high road. Curry and Thompson don’t always clap back, so when they do, Dray knows that he has to take a step back in order to avoid an escalation: “That’s just not how we roll,” Green said. “So I usually do the majority of the talking most the time. It either leads to us having a conversation and discussing what I think and what they think and how we can figure it out. If it’s in a heated battle, a heat-of-the-moment situation and I’m like ‘Klay stop shooting the ball’ and he cuss and yell back, then we just keep it pushing and I run on and he run on. Or if I say something to Steph and he gets mad and snaps back every two blue moons then he says something back and I just run off and go about my day.”
It was at this point where Wade decided to drop a shocking truth bomb about how the hatred for the Heat was racially motivated: “We knew that some of the hate was because of our skin color,” he claimed. “Because of being Black men and deciding to control the fate of our careers. … So, when we had the power, when we had the moment, we took it. But some of the hate came because we were three Black guys who decided and changed the way that the NBA probably would ever be because of that decision.”
Dwyane Wade recently made a guest appearance on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & The Three podcast, and it was an opportunity for the Heat icon to get brutally honest with his thoughts on why their Big 3 garnered so much hate. Wade was quick to point out that the way they teamed up to win a title wasn’t much different from how other iconic teams did it in the past (h/t ClutchPoints on Twitter): “If you think about it, no one gives backlash to any championships that Larry Bird won, that Magic Johnson won, that Michael Jordan won,” Wade said. “… You don’t win championships without playing with other guys that are great, first of all.”
Clutch Points: Brandon Jennings has some thoughts on the state of today’s NBA… 🤔 Jennings mentions that he feels Chris Paul and LeBron James were among those who contributed to turning the NBA into a “player’s league,” which has hurt the league. (via @Tuff__Crowd) pic.twitter.com/0fKrdStGsK