Marc J. Spears: Ex-Warriors center Festus Ezeli is in q…

Marc J. Spears: Ex-Warriors center Festus Ezeli is in quarantine in the G League Bubble and will be out Sunday, a source told @TheUndefeated. He is a part of the @nbagleague player pool making him eligible to be picked up by any team . He hasn’t played since 2016 NBA Finals due to knee injuries.

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With the Miami Heat increasing the amount of fans permitted to attend games at AmericanAirlines Arena during the COVID-19 pandemic to about 3,000, a limited number of individual game tickets will soon be made available to the general public. A few hundred individual game tickets will go on sale to the general public on Saturday starting at noon on Heat.com for each of the final four home games before the All-Star break: Wednesday vs. Toronto Raptors, Feb. 26 vs. Utah Jazz, and Feb. 28 and March 2 vs. Atlanta Hawks. There is a four ticket per game purchase limit.
Jeff Goodman: NCAA will allow limited number of fans at the NCAA Tournament, including all rounds and the Final Four. The decision to allow up to 25% capacity with physical distancing was made in conjunction with state and local health authorities.
Within all of that, there was always going to be skepticism from the public that — whether it was the NBA or other pro sports leagues — the wealthy were going to jump the line (with the vaccine). I almost feel like it would make people feel good to know that someone who is guiding a lot of the protocol with the NBA is not a hired gun who only focuses on their priorities, if that makes sense. Dr. Leroy Sims: It does make sense, and what we’re doing on the NBA side is exactly what you indicated. We’re respecting public health guidelines, seeing what the CDC says and following what states and local governments and departments of health recommend. So to your point, we are not jumping the line. We are not looking to get ahead of anyone. What we’re doing is making sure that the essential and frontline workers have access to the vaccine, that people who are — from a health point of view — the most vulnerable, they have access to the vaccine. We don’t want to be in a position where we’re taking vaccines away from ER doctors or people who live in nursing homes or people with chronic medical conditions. We understand that and respect that. When the question does come up — when can we get vaccinated? — and I lay out the information about how the distribution is working right now, people go, “Yeah, I understand that.”
As a white man who has learned more and more on this front, I wonder if you think the players’ concerns are born out of the specific history here or is it also a generational thing where guys’ parents told them to be careful with the medical community (without the cultural context)? Dr. Leroy Sims: All those things are in play, Sam, because you have people who do know the history. These are some very well-read and savvy guys. They know the history. But also, they live in some of these communities, or come from some of these communities, and have seen the impacts up close and personal and have lived it. So there’s that piece that can’t be overlooked, that there is a familiarity with what’s happening. And it’s a beautiful thing that our guys stay in touch with the community. And they’re role models. And it is for that reason that we do want to partner with our players. We do want their support. We do want them to be spokesmen regarding this vaccine, and even though they can’t get vaccinated right now, we hope that they’ll lend support to family members who may be eligible to get vaccinated. So that’s one of the calls that I have: Can you all support us that way? And hopefully, when it’s your turn and we can vaccinate you, you’ll get vaccinated as well.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks partnered with a provider to distribute at-home FDA-approved saliva COVID-19 PCR tests to fans who buy tickets for Knicks games at MSG in Feb. It will be overnighted upon request, to fulfill requirement of a PCR test no more than 72 hours before a Knicks game at MSG. pic.twitter.com/szI8cnlVIj
Stefan Bondy: Knicks announce they’re selling tickets now for between $50 and $380. You need proof of a negative CoViD test to get in. Test has to be within 72 hours of the game.
According to ManGamesLost.com, a subscription website that tracks injuries (including illnesses, like COVID-19) across all major sports, the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers are the two most-injured teams over the last three seasons, in a virtual, statistical tie. The website’s data runs through games played on Monday. So from October of 2018 through Feb. 15, the Bulls’ players had missed 605 games to 604 for Cavs players. Due to the pandemic and the general flow of a schedule in an ongoing season, the two teams haven’t played the same amount of games on their schedules.
The Cavaliers are partnered medically with the Cleveland Clinic, consistently ranked among the finest hospitals in the world. That’s not to say doctors never make mistakes, but there aren’t exactly any league whispers about the Cavs needing to cut ties there. One agent who represents players on the Cavs, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the organization does “a very good job” managing players’ health. “They are very transparent, very thorough,” he said.
Ky Carlin: Doc Rivers confirms that Ben Simmons does not have COVID. He’s just out with the flu. He asked me not to mention COVID anymore. He said it’s a dirty word. #Sixers

https://twitter.com/StevePopper/status/1362163550383443972
The NBA's outreach to the agents of many of the league's elite players -- with hopes of getting stars to participate in PSAs to promote the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine -- has been met with a tepid response, sources said. Player apprehension about receiving the vaccine are consistent with those that also exist in Black communities throughout the country, agents and players told ESPN.
Sources describe a number of factors contributing to many players' reluctance to participate, including uncertainty about taking the vaccine themselves, reluctance to advocate its use for others and resistance to extending favors to a league amid the largely unpopular plans for an All-Star Game.
On a call with league general managers on Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver continued to tell top team executives that the league wouldn't "jump the line" of the general public to get vaccines, but he suggested an optimistic timeline that included the possibility of late March and early April for the start of player vaccinations, sources said. Nevertheless, that's considered a fluid timeline, largely meant to reaffirm to teams the need to be prepared for whenever the opportunity to vaccinate players comes from public health officials, sources said.
Michael Singer: Michael Malone said to this point, none of his players have expressed any lingering effects of COVID cases. Asked him that question following Jayson Tatum’s admission that he doesn’t have the same stamina after his case.
John Karalis: There's a COVID outbreak on the Spurs pic.twitter.com/03MFaBfVaC

http://twitter.com/RedsArmy_John/status/1361704068775882752
Tom Orsborn: Pop: "We all have to continue being meticulous about doing everything that needs done. (COVID-19) is still here, and we are not even close to done with it, so we are trying to really tell our team to bear down every day - every day - and do everything we are told to do.”
Ira Winderman: Tyler Herro, on watching game in Houston, while awaiting test results, "I felt like I was in jail." He said room had a small TV, but it also had a shower, so he was able to shower after warming up.
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns is back after his bout with COVID-19, but the virus is still having an impact on him mentally. Shortly before tipoff of the Timberwolves’ game against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, the Hornets scratched P.J. Washington due to health and safety protocols. The scratch came when the Timberwolves were warming up, and Towns admitted that he was left shaken by it.
Marc Stein: Kevin Durant is back and fully available for the Nets' game Saturday night at Golden State, Steve Nash says. The Warriors are planning two tribute videos for Kevin Durant ... one Saturday night when Durant makes his on-court return to the Bay Area and another next season when fans are back at Chase Center
Ira Winderman: Per Heat: Tyler Herro accompanied the team to Salt Lake City last night for tomorrow night's game vs the Jazz and is no longer in the NBA's health and safety protocols.
Ian Begley: Frank Ntilikina continues to test negative for COVID but didn’t travel with Knicks to Washington DC for Friday’s game vs. Wizards, per source. Ntilikina didn’t play Tuesday as he’s subject to contact tracing after being in proximity to someone outside of NYK who tested positive.
“Florida has been really welcoming to us and we’re so grateful for the hospitality we’ve found in Tampa and at Amalie – we’re living in a city of champions, and we intend to carry on the tradition of winning for our new friends and fans here,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto. We think often of our fans, of our Scotiabank Arena family, and all those we are missing back home, and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.”
Towns didn’t go into specific details about the symptoms he experienced or the exact underlying conditions to which he was referring, but he described an experience that was harrowing and, at times, frightening. As hard as it was on his body, Towns said it may have been even harder on his mind. The long nights, the loneliness of isolation and knowing his mother was no longer there to help him through it. “There’s things I haven’t dealt with and still grieving and stuff that I have to deal with now in silence with no one around to help me with that process,” he said. “Mental health is real and it’s very, very real and I’ve dealt with it my whole life and I’m glad that I had my mother with me, because she always just knew how to heal me and that mental aspect. Obviously with her not here, it’s even more challenging, but she gave me a lot of tools, so I just utilize them as best I could.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Karl-Anthony Towns: "Getting COVID stopped everything...I am a high-risk case. COVID did not treat me well whatsoever. A lot of scary nights." He told his sister he got a bad version of COVID and had "a lot of it in me..A lot of long nights and the vitals weren't good (at times)"
Ohm Youngmisuk: KAT: "I feel very guilty about the treatment I got [that] I [wish was] more widely available to anyone in the world. I feel very guilty... there is such mental strain through all this time. A feeling of guilt because of the resources I have. I wish I could (share) the resources."
Melissa Rohlin: Karl Anthony-Towns described his harrowing experience with COVID: "You get to a point where you feel like you're never going to see the court again."
Brian Lewis: Abbamondi: "For the remainder of the season we're donating a portion of ticket proceeds to support vaccination efforts in Brooklyn. We'd also like to thank our fans for their support this season and we are looking forward to bringing their energy back to Barclays Center!” #Nets
Malika Andrews: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that sports venue can re-open at 10 percent capacity on Feb. 23. Fans must return a negative PCR test within 72 hours of an event. Masks and social distancing will be required, along with temperature checks.
Eric Nehm: Jrue Holiday is listed as OUT (Health and Safety Protocols) on the NBA's injury report for tonight's game against the Suns. Bucks are supposed to have shootaround in Phoenix in about an hour. We will be given one player for media availability afterwards.
League officials want this, in large part, because they believe the fans, the Turner folks and the players want it too (contrary to popular belief). Of course, money is the primary motivating factor — no one is denying that. But safety, league sources say, is being prioritized in the kind of way that should make it all possible without putting players in harm’s way.
Sources say league officials are very confident they can pull it off safely because the restrictions for players are expected to be extreme and the timeline will be drastically condensed. And any player who thinks this will be anything remotely resembling the annual All-Star gala, with nonstop appearances and parties throughout the weekend before the game finally arrives on Sunday, is in for a rude awakening.
As one person with knowledge of the situation put it, “It’s basically going to be a mini-bubble.” And therein lies the irony: For all the focus on the possible dangers that could come with holding an All-Star game, the league’s belief is that the players who come will likely be better off than the many who are expected to squeeze in getaways during the short break. According to an ESPN report, player travel during the break is limited to the United States (including Hawaii), the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Sources tell The Athletic that the medical protocol that still has to be agreed upon by the NBA and the NBPA is being finalized, but the following is expected to be part of the plan. A quick timeline: Players would come into Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and evening and be gone by Sunday night. Private transportation required: Flights, cars, all of the above. Players would only be permitted to be at the hotel or State Farm Arena, with no exceptions made for other locations. The notion of fans being at the game appears likely, especially considering the Hawks have already been permitting 1,000 people to their home games. Sources say it’s not expected to be many, but a number is not clear. Considering the contrast to the Orlando bubble, where there were no fans and any ‘Tier 2’ attendees who hadn’t undergone quarantines and daily testing were seated far above the floor, this is where any comparison to that set-up potentially falls flat.
In the Mavericks’ respective cases, Richardson, Finney-Smith and Powell haven’t offered much detail about their COVID plights. After Saturday’s win over Golden State, Kleber in his first public comments in four weeks gave a stark description of playing games post-COVID. “Being sick at home obviously is not fun, especially when your guys are playing,” he said. “That was not fun.”
Maxi Kleber: “I’ve got to be honest: Coming back from that, and when you’re sitting at home for more than 20 days, it really hurts the first couple of practices. The games, your legs are heavy. You feel slow. I still feel slow. I hope that me and all the guys that had to sit out that long get back in shape and get to moving again. Because if you rest that long, it can take some time.”
Troy Brown: When they told me that I tested positive, I wasn’t surprised. I had already started quarantining, so it wasn’t a shock; the positive test just confirmed my suspicions. I’ve taken COVID very seriously and been very safe since this all started, but I still got it. When I got the news, I wasn’t too scared. I don't know if I’ll have any long-term issues that are related to COVID, but I try not to worry about that since it’s out of my control. My mindset is this: It happened and I can't do anything about it, so I’m just trying to stay as positive as I can, live day-by-day and not worry. Once I was quarantined, I was just resting every day. I played a lot of Call of Duty and NBA 2K (I’m a big fan of MyCareer mode). I played with my dogs a lot (I have a Pomeranian and a Shih Tzu Poodle). I did a lot of cleaning. I was watching a lot of basketball too -- from highlights to different games on League Pass.
Troy Brown: I definitely feel safe in our work environment. They deep clean the facility and we’re always wearing masks and social distancing. In every corner of our facility, there are free masks available and they make sure we’re always wearing one. They’ve changed a number of things for safety reasons. For instance, we’re not allowed to eat on the airplane anymore unless the flight is three hours or longer (or something like that). That way, we keep our masks on for the duration of the flight. They added a bunch of rules like that in an effort to minimize risk. Our coaches and staff in Washington have been incredible; they are definitely prioritizing our health.
Duane Rankin: "It's just a lot to handle. The players want to play. The league wants to keep everybody safe and keep the league going. It's not going to be perfect." Monty Williams on seeing Brooklyn star Kevin Durant pulled during Friday's game due to #NBA health and safety protocols. #Suns pic.twitter.com/HUQZ9R00nX
Storyline: Coronavirus
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August 6, 2021 | 12:37 am EDT Update

Damian Lillard to give Blazers another chance?

Goodwill made mention of the New York Knicks’ calculated moves, in how they coallign with a potential Lillard deal, should his relationship with the Blazer go awry. In providing his own outlook on the situation, Haynes had this to say. “I expect Damian Lillard to go and play for the Portland Trail Blazers. I expect him to try out this roster. I believe he wants to give Chauncey Billups a chance. And I think he’s going to go there, give the roster a shot. And Portland’s probably still not done. You know, I’m hearing Paul Millsap, a guy they’re looking at. I’m hearing Kelly Oubre, who’s still on the market, a guy that they’re looking at, so they’re still not done. But I expect Dame to go out there next season, play, see how things materialize, and go from there.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 167 more rumors
And then you Damian Lillard, who’s been as public as he’s ever been in stating his dissatisfaction with the way things are going with the team and the roster construction. And then you bring on these players, who I’m not saying, you know, Norman Powell they had to re-sign. Five years, they had to. You couldn’t let him go. But outside of that, there wasn’t much done that I think moves the needle. And you brought up that New York angle, you know, from all accounts of what we’re hearing, definitely, the Knicks have an eye on Damian Lillard, so we’ll see what happens from there.”
August 6, 2021 | 12:27 am EDT Update
NBA Top Shot will sell highlights from the upcoming Summer League basketball competition as non-fungible tokens for the first time, it said on Tuesday. The NFTs will feature outstanding play “moments” from three days of games at the NBA Summer League meet in Las Vegas, those on August 8-10. Fans will be able to pre-order the $5 moments from a kiosk at the venue. “For the first time ever, NBA Top Shot fans will have the ability to purchase a moment in an arena, and receive a moment from a game they saw in-person,” the company said in its statement.