Jon Krawczynski: Gersson Rosas on KAT: "It's heartbreak…

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Christopher Hine: Rosas: "We feel like it's a protected, isolated situation with those exposures ... but this is significant to our family, that positive ... and our organization wasn't prepared to move forward tonight."

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Fred Katz: Tommy Sheppard said four of the six Wizards players with COVID are asymptomatic. The other two are feeling symptoms. One was feeling symptoms two days ago and has felt great the last two days, he says.
Years ago, a longtime NBA scout settled into Madison Square Garden for an early-season college game. He found his seat more than two hours before tip-off, eager to watch warmups. He’d heard good things about the prospect he had come to evaluate. The player, a college junior, was excelling for a ranked Big East team. The scout pulled out his notebook and pen.
But the player, whom the scout declined to name, “didn’t possess the demeanor of a pro.” He didn’t hustle. He “goofed off,” failed to run in straight lines during warmup drills and didn’t make much eye contact with teammates. “The overall feel I got left me with a lot of questions,” the scout recalls. “It was a red flag.” He crossed off the prospect’s name, packed his bags and left the arena — before the game had even begun. Sticking around, he reasoned, would have been a waste of time.
“When you see a player in person, I can’t tell you the world of difference it makes,” says a Western Conference scout based in the Northeast. “It’s all in the details you pick up: warmups, body language, what do they do when the camera isn’t on them. The stuff you can’t get on TV or on Synergy (an analytics and film platform). The biggest thing is that being at the games and seeing these guys for yourself reduces our organization’s risk as far as making a pick.”

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The Washington Wizards are dealing with an outbreak situation, with the franchise now up to five players who have tested positive for COVID-19, sources tell The Athletic's Shams Charania and Fred Katz. The Wizards last played on Monday against the Phoenix Suns. They have already had two games postponed this week — Wednesday against the Jazz and Friday against the Pistons. Washington's next scheduled game is Sunday against the Cavaliers.
Fred Katz, Wizards writer: The Wizards had plenty of close calls with COVID-19 before eventually having to miss games. They played the Celtics last week, the day before Boston flashed a positive test. Before that, they went up against the 76ers the day before they had one. Kevin Durant went into quarantine the day after his Nets played the Wizards. Bulls players tested positive in the middle of a series in Washington. Now, the Wizards are the ones dealing with the real-life issues that come with playing this season in the middle of a pandemic.
Katz: Most importantly, the Wizards have to get healthy. Players who test positive for coronavirus must quarantine for a minimum of 10-to-14 days, per league rules. If they have symptoms, quarantines can be longer than that. They then have a two-day ramp-up period and have to pass a cardio test before returning for good. It could be a while before some of these guys return. The status of the upcoming series against Cleveland, scheduled for Sunday/Monday, is up in the air, given today's news. Either way, it will be a minute before we see the Wizards in their full form.
Cody Taylor: Steve Clifford said the Magic are very confident the game tomorrow night vs. the Celtics will be played: "Our plan is that we'll be playing."
Damian Lillard: So, that’s what the challenge is, and just let them know, we need to create a bubble within our team, within our organization. The people in our facility and a bubble in our household, that way we’re protecting each other to the best of our abilities. But I wouldn’t say go back to a bubble because there’s so much more season to be played, people have families, and at least we’re forming a bubble in our homes, in our own beds and get to do it that way.
Chris Mannix: I've been hearing from people within the league office that you're not gonna see anything radical happen when it comes to how they're going to deal with this growing number of infections and people being exposed to infections, but they will nibble around the fringes a little bit and adding bodies might be one way to do it.
Sarah K. Spencer: Kevin Huerter says the Hawks have a few people who are self-isolating. "Hopefully we can nip it real quick... We had no contact with Phoenix. But with our team situation, obviously we think we have the right people in isolation and hopefully it doesn't spread too far from that."

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Sarah K. Spencer: Lloyd Pierce says he is self-isolating in a hotel room right now, due to contact-tracing. He didn't give a time period of how long he has to isolate, just says it's until the league tells him. Says he has tested negative.
What if players volunteered at the many public distributions centers that are being arranged throughout the country and received the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the masses to do the same along the way? A source with knowledge of the call with team presidents said UCLA was the possible site mentioned, but that sort of approach could gain traction. According to a Pew poll of 12,648 people conducted from Nov. 18-29, just 42 percent of Black people intended to get the vaccine when it became available. It has been chronicled and analyzed that many in the Black community are known to be distrustful of vaccines, in large part because of the shameful history of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
The potential thinking here isn’t hard to understand: The sight of the world’s most famous basketball players — the large majority of whom are Black — getting the vaccine while sharing productive vaccine messaging could go a long way toward aiding that cause. With President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, a source said league officials have been in touch with the incoming administration’s transition team about how the NBA might be able to help.
Malone’s Nuggets were inside the bubble until the Western Conference finals were over. He argued publicly for coaches to be able to welcome families — a luxury the players enjoyed far, far earlier than coaches. There is no bubble now because the isolation was too much for everybody involved. League officials resist even the idea of a shutdown or pause right now. They want to plow ahead and get this season over, so the next one (with fans allowed in) can start on time. But to hear Malone warm to the idea of a bubble is an indicator of just how difficult it is navigating a season outside of one in this pandemic.
Thunder guard George Hill pushed back against the stricter COVID-19 safety protocols the NBA announced Tuesday, wondering why the season would continue if such measures were necessary. “I’m a grown man, so I’m gonna do what I wanna do,” Hill said after the Thunder’s 112-102 loss to the Spurs. “If I wanna go see my family, I’m gonna go see my family. They can’t tell me I have to stay in the room 24/7. If it’s that serious then maybe we shouldn’t be playing. It’s life. No one’s gonna be able to just cancel their whole life for this game.”
Farbod Esnaashari: Everyone is paying attention to George Hill's quote, but should pay attention to Shai: "If it means I have to wear a mask on the bench the whole time, it is what it is and I'm gonna do it. I want to get back to normal living, and whatever it takes to get back, I'm going to do it
Harrison Faigen: Kyle Kuzma isn't overly enthused by the idea of going back to the bubble, but made it seem like he'd be willing if necessary. "Obviously that would be a last resort type of deal... But this team, this organization, if a championship is on the line, that's what we're going to do"

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Mike Trudell: Marc Gasol said he understands and respects the tighter policies as the NBA tries to minimize risk during the ongoing pandemic: “It’s for the best of everyone. We understand that."
Kendra Andrews: Malone says it's not surprising the league updated its covid protocols. He says he wants hopes for greater commitment to those rules moving forward. "Hopefully these new protocols will allow us to see less players and teams affected by covid."
Storyline: Coronavirus
More HoopsHype Rumors
March 3, 2021 | 9:47 am EST Update
Several sources within the Houston organization firmly believe Morey made a preemptive decision, departing in large part because he anticipated Harden would want out, beginning a rebuilding period for the Rockets. According to sources, Morey had expressed concern inside the bubble about not being able to “keep James happy,” due to a lack of picks to use as trade fodder to make offseason roster upgrades.
Harden’s happiness, or lack thereof, was Stone’s problem after the longtime Rockets front office executive was promoted to replace Morey. But just getting Harden to communicate with him was difficult for Stone and the Houston front office, a factor that delayed the coaching search that ultimately ended with the hiring of Silas, a longtime NBA assistant who was a finalist when Houston hired D’Antoni four years earlier. By early November, the Rockets had privately come to terms with the fact that the Harden-Westbrook pairing fizzled, as the friends no longer wanted to play together. That was problematic, given the steep price the Rockets paid in the Westbrook trade the previous summer, but Houston could stomach searching for a Westbrook trade.
After the game, crew chief Marc Davis told a pool reporter that Booker’s first technical was for “continuous complaining” and the second was for “directing profane language at a game official.” Suns forward Jae Crowder said he tried to get between Booker and the referees to deescalate the tense situation but was too late. “Devin was disputing his first technical,” Crowder said. “He didn’t like the first technical that was given to him and he voiced his opinion about it. The second ref heard him voice his opinion and decided to give him another one.”
Storyline: Officiating Complaints
“I think Jae Crowder said it best: We got better tonight,” said Suns coach Monty Williams after the game. “You gain confidence when a guy like Book doesn’t play or gets tossed and you’re able to pull a game out on the road at the end of a trip. That’s a recipe for mailing it in, and this group has shown a lot of resiliency. But that was a big-time character win, and we got better. “I think we played good tonight, but we probably got more confidence that we can pull a game out without Devin or Chris [Paul] saving the day.”
LeBron James was asked about dealing with the stretch of recent games. “Just trying to stay in the moment. For me just standing in the moment, keeping my guys motivated, keeping them upbeat,” the four-time NBA champion said. “You could definitely tell that some of our guys are just feeling the midst of the long season that we had last year with the bubble and coming right back on to the season this year. A lot of guys looking forward to the break so it’ll be beneficial to our guys.”
But don’t diminish Turner based on one historically challenging matchup. He should still be a frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year Award, if not the favorite to win the award over the likes of Embiid, Rudy Gobert and others, at least based on his body of work so far this season. Here’s why: For one, Turner leads the league in blocks at 3.4 per game, and it isn’t particularly close. Gobert came into the Philly game second in that category, 11 blocks behind. Of course, leading the league in blocks isn’t necessarily the litmus test; in 2018-19, Turner led the league in blocks and didn’t get a sniff of the award. It’s why he knew that if he wanted to bolster his candidacy, he needed to add some subtle elements to his defensive game.
No player contests more shots per game within six feet of the basket than Turner (10.5) and he allows a minus-16.2 percent difference in field goal percentage on these attempts. He’s not just blocking shots; he’s altering shots, making plays with his quick feet and hands and giving the Pacers one of the top — if not the top — rim protectors in the game. “It’s funny, his rookie year, he was amazing; I got to see him on the USA Select Team and thought he was the best player on the whole team. He was unbelievable,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s turned out to be a different kind of player than I thought he would be.
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