The Cavs asked for their original variance request, sub…

More on Coronavirus

During the second meeting in less than three months, the Cavs presented an enhanced plan and played a collection of supportive first-person video testimonials from initially-hesitant fans who have attended games inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this season, enjoyed the experience, felt safe and expressed interest in returning.
In an effort to combat the piling up of games due to postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA on Wednesday said it will adjust the existing schedule to avoid having to fill in too many games during the second half of the season. To do so, the NBA will do two things: reschedule games that have already been postponed, where possible, between now and the league's scheduled midseason break in early March; and reschedule games to the second half of the season -- which has yet to be announced -- in order to squeeze in more games where possible in the first half.
Washington’s second-half schedule might not be as jam-packed as first thought, after the NBA said Wednesday it was rescheduling some Wizards games after a half-dozen of their contests were postponed in recent weeks for virus-related reasons. Portland will now visit Washington on Tuesday, a game that was originally set for the second half. Washington will play at Charlotte on Feb. 7, a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 20. And that means the Blazers, who were scheduled to visit the Hornets that day, will now go to Charlotte in the second half of the schedule.
Attempts to grow closer as a team are confronting a world in which proximity to teammates is both dangerous and prohibited. As a result, NBA players and staffs have been reduced to distant conversations through face masks, and a road life dominated by individual screens rather than collective camaraderie. "The reality is that you can't do stuff like that anymore," Haslem said. "Those opportunities don't exist." In Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner's words: "It's a bubble within a bubble."
STARTING AN AVERAGE day on the road, an NBA player must now wake up as early as 7:30 a.m. to be tested before a practice or shootaround, depending on the market. He then returns to his room to catch another hour or so of sleep, or to busy himself with a video game, an episode of a series or maybe a FaceTime session with family back home. A couple of hours later, he reports downstairs to board the team bus. The wait in the lobby is traditionally a time when players schmooze and hang out, but with everyone at least 6 feet apart and masked, the vibe has taken on an edgy quality.
Pre-practice strategy sessions at the hotel can no longer last more than 10 minutes. Shootaround or practice offer some normalcy, but breakfast back at the hotel in a ballroom, typically a communal ritual where players and staff yuck it up at tables for eight, now operates as a grab-and-go. Want some fresh air? Forget about taking a walk outside, even though the CDC and other leading medical institutions regard outdoor activities with the appropriate precautions as low risk.
This season, that ground rarely extends much past the door to a hotel room. The Spurs' custom on the plane has been effectively prohibited. Under the new guidelines, players must sit next to the same guys they sit next to on the bench during games. On an off night, it's dinners for one in the room -- a far cry from the jovial dining out experience in a road city. "I think that's hard -- having options taken away," Holiday said. "You might go to your favorite city, and have a favorite food spot that people might not know about. And that's something that you can bring to the table, something you share, and [this season] you can't really share that."

http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat/status/1354558416472125441
Shams Charania: One new NBA player tested positive for coronavirus out of 492 tested since Jan. 20, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium . Down from 11 positives last week and 16 the prior week.
A month into the season, and I can only draw one conclusion: The NBA blew it. The decision to play games in home markets has been a failure. Dozens of games have been postponed. Countless more have been impacted by player absences. A 72-game season for many teams is a pipe dream. The ticket revenue squeezed out of a handful of arenas has been overshadowed by daily disruptions. The unwillingness to eat the cost of a closed-campus environment has come at a greater price. “F--- this,” texted a veteran assistant coach last week. “I’m ready to go back [to the bubble].”
Across the NBA, a return to bubble life is picking up supporters. “It’s starting to get janky,” tweeted Aaron Gordon. “I’d be cool with a bubble if it was in the Bahamas or Hawaii and we got to bring our family/wife or girlfriend.” George Hill didn’t go that far, but when the NBA announced stricter protocols this month the Thunder guard declared, “If it's that serious, then maybe we shouldn't be playing.”
Andrew Greif: Per the most recent injury report for tonight's game, there are no additional players listed for the Clippers. Still Beverley, Leonard and George listed out.
“There was some skepticism,” Sims told The Undefeated in a phone interview on Jan. 22. “They asked, ‘Were Black people included in the clinical trials? How did they really know it worked?’ I used a slide with results and graphs showing treatment vs. placebo. I walked them through the vaccine development process and how this timeline works. It helped knowing that I got vaccinated after having my own hesitation initially, which I shared. I told them that it wasn’t mandatory that I got vaccinated, but my research and reviews helped me make my decision. I said I would recommend it to grandma. That I swayed her helped them too.
“Just being able to have someone break it down for them, someone speaking to them who they know and trust, and someone there to answer all their questions gave everyone across the board more comfort with the vaccines. I appealed to the reality that they, my parents and elders, got other vaccines and vaccinated us throughout the years. So, I know they aren’t anti-vaxxers. I encouraged them to ask questions, remain curious and make informed decisions, and not just accept things based on blind faith, because medicine is supposed to be based on evidence.”
What is the state of the NBA as it attempts to play out the season with the challenges that come with COVID-19? I would say that if you judge us independently of what happened in the bubble, we’re doing as well as we expected and are probably where we thought we would be. Judging us against the bubble, where we were in a controlled environment and we had no players test positive, then it makes the season seem like a contrast. But in reality, in both situations, we were able to generate health and safety protocols to keep people healthy and safe. If you look at where we are with this season, we’re playing the majority of our games.
When do you think NBA players and the coaching staff will start getting the vaccine? We’re not jumping the line. We understand that the vaccine is rolling out in such a way that you’re trying to get to the people who are most at risk or most vulnerable first, that includes front-line workers like myself working in the ER [emergency room], because we’re around so many people who could have the virus. It includes people who are elderly, living in congregate settings, like nursing homes, or people who have chronic medical conditions. Those people who are at risk of severe complications, hospitalizations or deaths if they were to get COVID, we’re focused on them. After that, we’ll open it up. The vaccine will start to be distributed to others in the community.
We recognize that our basketball players are young and healthy, so they will get vaccinated or have the opportunity to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. So we won’t be jumping the line there. As it relates to some of our coaches and older individuals, some of them are in categories that allow them to get vaccinated. But that will bear out the way that the local hospitals, departments of public health, are rolling out the vaccine and setting up the prioritization.
Ira Winderman: Heat injury report for Wednesday vs. visiting Nuggets: Out: Jimmy Butler (protocols) Chris Silva (hip flexor) Meyers Leonard (shoulder) Moe Harkless (thigh) Questionable Avery Bradley (protocols) Tyler Herro (neck) Goran Dragic (groin) Gabe Vincent (ankle)
Eddie Sefko: Dorian Finney-Smith said he felt like he had a cold while isolated for 14 days in a Denver hotel room. Said he never thought it would be him during what has become a crazy, crazy season. More to come on mavs.com
Dr. Leroy Sims has been on hundreds of Zoom calls since the pandemic hit the United States. Many were of sobering variety. But on Sunday afternoon, the NBA senior vice president of medical affairs led a Zoom call that had special meaning to him as he talked to his grandmother, uncle and other family members and close friends who were mostly African American about why they should take the COVID-19 vaccine. “There was some skepticism,” Sims told The Undefeated in a phone interview on Jan. 22. “They asked, ‘Were Black people included in the clinical trials? How did they really know it worked?’ I used a slide with results and graphs showing treatment vs. placebo. I walked them through the vaccine development process and how this timeline works. It helped knowing that I got vaccinated after having my own hesitation initially, which I shared. I told them that it wasn’t mandatory that I got vaccinated, but my research and reviews helped me make my decision. I said I would recommend it to grandma. That I swayed her helped them too.
When do you think NBA players and the coaching staff will start getting the vaccine? Sims: We’re not jumping the line. We understand that the vaccine is rolling out in such a way that you’re trying to get to the people who are most at risk or most vulnerable first, that includes front-line workers like myself working in the ER [emergency room], because we’re around so many people who could have the virus. It includes people who are elderly, living in congregate settings, like nursing homes, or people who have chronic medical conditions. Those people who are at risk of severe complications, hospitalizations or deaths if they were to get COVID, we’re focused on them. After that, we’ll open it up. The vaccine will start to be distributed to others in the community.
Miami Heat guard Avery Bradley revealed on the Yahoo Sports’ “Posted Up with Chris Haynes Podcast” that he’s been sidelined since Jan. 9 after testing positive for COVID-19 and placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocol. In Monday’s episode, the 6-foot-2 defensive stalwart spoke on numerous topics and specifically about his raw emotions upon receiving the news. "To be honest, I was upset because I come to work and I do the right things, I come to work every single day and do all the protocols to make sure I’m protected so I can protect my family. To come up with the news knowing that I got it at work, I was a little frustrated to be honest,” Bradley said on “Posted Up.” “I was frustrated because I felt like it compromised my family’s safety.”
Ira Winderman: NBA source tells the Sun Sentinel that the expectation is Jimmy Butler will be cleared from pandemic protocol today. Then it will come down to a matter of conditioning. Heat play at Brooklyn tonight, then next play Wednesday at home against Denver.
Brooklyn center DeAndre Jordan affectionately shooed Adebayo away as well with a pat on the head. The scene after the Nets’ 128-124 win Saturday night at Barclays Center was surreal, but encapsulates the COVID era we’re living in. “I just want to follow NBA protocols,” Irving said with a wan laugh, before adding as he left the Zoom call “I have the jersey, by the way.”

http://twitter.com/ESPNNBA/status/1353189653248151552
When asked if Irving ever got that pink-and-blue Heat jersey, Adabayo just shrugged his shoulders and threw his hands up in the air, looking over at a Heat staffer and eventually bursting out into laughter. “Oh yeah, he definitely wants it. I’m going to send one on my own time,” Adabayo said of Irving. “Just want to do that on my own time, and have a special 41 up there, you know?”
Brad Townsend: As Rick Carlisle said last night, Josh Richardson worked out in AAC and might return this week. From what I've heard, most likely order COVID-case returns is Richardson, Finney-Smith, Powell, Kleber, but as Carlisle repeatedly has emphasized, everything is fluid.
The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They've been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season in which the team has allowed a handful of guests -- mostly friends and family of players and staff. Starting this week, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first.
"If you think about it, detection dogs are not new," said Matthew Jafarian, the Heat's executive vice president for business strategy. "You've seen them in airports, they've been used in mission-critical situations by the police and the military. We've used them at the arena for years to detect explosives."
Alex Schiffer: Kyrie Irving asked about his attempt to get a jersey from Bam Adebayo at the end of the game and having it broken up by security: "I just want to follow NBA protocols."
The Heat recently released guidelines for fans planning to attend a game, and it included an entire video, seen above, showing how a group of specially trained dogs will be on hand to sniff fans to see if they have COVID-19 as they enter the arena. Because apparently dogs can do that now. Specifically, fans will stand in a distanced line, at which point an employee will guide a dog past the line. If a dog signals it has detected the coronavirus by sitting down in front of a person, that person and their entire group will be denied entry to the arena.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is nearing a return and is listed as questionable to play Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. Porter has been cleared from the NBA's health and safety protocols and returned to the team, a league source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Nuggets coach Michael Malone said that Porter has to clear a cardio exam to return to play from the protocols.
Now that they’re in, it’s going to be very hard to get some players to opt out. “I love the game of basketball, so if I have the chance to play it, I will,” Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant told me on a Zoom Monday. “I also feel like COVID is a big thing going on right now. We still have to be safe. I feel like the league’s doing a great job, from last season to even this season, trying to stop it, make sure we keep the games going and everybody staying safe and healthy. I feel like as long as everybody locks into it, hold each other accountable and also their self, I feel like the season will be fine to continue to go on.”
Dr. Prins, who reviewed the protocols for The New York Times, noted that in defining close contact, the N.B.A. included a quote from the C.D.C. that said that the transmission from an infected person is based on several factors, including whether they are “likely to generate respiratory aerosols.” “Well what do we think is happening on the court?” Dr. Prins said. “This is not two people sitting across from each other for 10 minutes and they haven’t even been talking or anything. These are people who are breathing hard and calling to each other on the court. I think it is very likely that they are generating a lot of aerosols. For me, I would want a very conservative definition of close contact here.”
Chase Hughes: Wizards announce SIX players are out for Friday's game vs. Bucks due to Covid protocol, plus two more for injuries: Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, Moe Wagner. Also, Thomas Bryant (ACL) and Russell Westbrook (quad).

https://twitter.com/StevePopper/status/1352014824960630784
Booker and Towns were teammates at Kentucky for the 2014-15 season and have remained close. So the Phoenix Suns All-Star guard immediately reached out to Towns about his health and well being. "His health is my priority," Booker said. "The health of his family is my priority."
After witnessing some opposing players disregarding new league rules against unnecessary contact on game nights, the NBA is moving team security into the midcourt area to dissuade violations that include hugging and handshakes, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN on Wednesday.
Despite those changes, there were still instances of traditional players' contact in postgame scenarios, which led the NBA to issue a memo on Wednesday reaffirming the rules that require teams to remain on their half of the court in pregame and halftime warmups, and limits to physical contact that include only elbow or fist bumps. High-fives, hugs and handshakes aren't allowed, nor are extended conversations post-game.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday the league has discussed having players receive COVID-19 vaccines to educate and influence the public regarding their safety and effectiveness. "There have been discussions. It's something we're particularly focused on," Silver said at a virtual conference hosted by Sportico.
Andy Larsen: Quin Snyder: "We would encourage everybody to take the vaccine... we haven't had specific conversations [about that], we're just trying to follow the current protocols"
Casey Holdahl: CJ McCollum notes his aunt has COVID-19 during his first press conference since breaking his left foot. And it brings up something I've been struggling with, which is that's it's difficult to talk about sports injuries right now without feeling kind of... foolish I guess?
Paul Rosenberg: Stephen A reveals on First Take that NBA reporter Sekou Smith is suffering from covid & he is hearing that "he's not doing so well". Obviously first I have heard of it. Have had Sekou on a few times to chat NBA on WFAN. Hopefully he has a full recovery.
Storyline: Coronavirus
More HoopsHype Rumors
September 26, 2021 | 12:48 pm EDT Update

Ja Morant: 'I'm a Top 5 point guard'

Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.
What do you think of Dillon Brooks as a defender and as a player overall for this team? Ja Morant: Dillon is an important piece to this team offensively and defensively. I’ve been saying a lot now that I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense, especially against some of the top guys. Some of them probably won’t admit it, but I feel like most of the games when they struggled, Dillon was guarding them. Soon, that’ll come that he gets his respect for that. Offensively, how he’s able to score the ball from all three levels is big-time for us.
Speaking of locker rooms, what are the expectations in the locker room for the Grizzlies this season? Where do you guys think you can compete on what type of level? Ja Morant: I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league. We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night. Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.
Granted, all of that stuff is a lot easier to say in the offseason than it is to actually feel when a player is on the outside looking in. But while it could just be a bunch of PR-friendly cliches being spewed, this team also really could be that committed to winning. Ellington certainly thinks so, and during a recent appearance on BallIsLife’s “Noble and Roosh Show,” he also outlined a few other reasons he thinks guys will be all right with not playing as much as they have in the past: “I think we have one of the older rosters, so I think guys are able to be mature about that. We understand that everybody’s not going to be able to play 30 minutes a game, so there’s going to be sacrifice. There’s going to be sacrifices that need to be made, and I think that’s part of the understanding. “But also, understanding that with the older roster, guys aren’t going to be able to play. Guys aren’t going to play every single game. I think you’re going to see sometimes guys get rested and that’s where the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality comes into play.”
It’s why he also likes that the team made sure to add a few younger players as well: “I think it’s a great combination, man, of basketball IQ, championship experience, hunger with the guys wanting more. You got a mix of guys that haven’t won championships who are hungry for championships. You got some young guys in Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, THT, you got some young guys that are dogs. I think it’s a great mix of veterans and some mid guys and some young guys. I think the roster was constructed beautifully.”
September 26, 2021 | 6:15 am EDT Update

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "There’s no room for players who do not want to get vaccinated"

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 287 more rumors