Clipper Darrell is still hurting about how it all went down in the bubble. The team struggled with a variety of issues, culminating with a loss to the Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals despite leading the series 3-1. For the thousands of fans unable to see their teams in person this NBA season, a part of their recreation and leisure is missing. Clipper Darrell, as one of the most visible fans of a team in the league after having attended nearly every Clippers home game for the previous 20 years, represents that separation anxiety.
Clipper Darrell joked that he was “hoping and praying” Ballmer called him, saying that he was ready to be quarantined just to support his team. “I mean, it hurts, man,” Clipper Darrell says. “Not to be able to cheer my guys on, high-five them, and tell them, ‘We’re going to be able to do this,’ man. And get that crowd pumped up. It’s my nature. You know, I feel guilty not being able to go, man. It breaks my heart, man, not being able to get in. I see Ballmer sitting next to them, I say, ‘Ballmer, call me, man! I want to sit next to you! Man, come on! We go six feet, let’s cheer these guys!’ But, you know, hey. I never get that phone call yet!”
Dane Moore: Josh Okogie is out tonight due to "extended protocols," according to Chris Finch. Finch says the Timberwolves are hopeful Okogie can join the team this weekend on the road in Memphis and Philadelphia this weekend.
Duane Rankin: #Suns will raise fan limit from 3,000 to "5,500-plus" starting April 7 vs. Utah, team officials said Wednesday. The "plus" is in suites. Attendance been little over 3K since going from 1,500 to 3,000 when Suns played Brooklyn Feb. 16. 1st had fans this season 2-7 vs. Boston.
Jared Weiss: Celtics list Jaylen Brown as available after missing a game with a sore hip, while Romeo Langford is out of the COVID protocol and is now out due to reconditioning. Presumably will return in the next couple games.
Shams Charania: Sources: One new NBA player tested positive for coronavirus out of 481 tested since March 24.
Joe Mussatto: Aleksej Pokusevski (health and safety protocols) is out tonight against the Raptors. Ty Jerome (right ankle sprain) is questionable. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala remain out.
With the United States entering what the government is calling the “fourth wave” of COVID-19 infections, the slow return to normalcy is proving difficult in both the NBA and society at large. A league source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said teams have been instructed by the league office that they cannot jump the line to get members of their organizations vaccinated, and nobody will be forced to be vaccinated against their will. But at the same time, extraordinary efforts are being made to educate players and team personnel about the merits of vaccination.
One source said that one of the most difficult tasks has been dispelling myths being perpetuated by anti-vaccine advocates whose information is being re-reported by some mainstream media companies and spreading on social media and online forums. Privately, players have expressed that they are hesitant to get the vaccine due to systemic distrust in the U.S. government, in large part due to the infamous "Tuskegee Experiment," league sources told BasketballNews.com.
After flying to Boston, Fournier took a COVID test prior to the Celtics’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which came back positive. According to Fournier, multiple subsequent tests all came back negative, and the doctor told him his COVID levels were very low on the positive test. “I’m glad it’s over because that was not the best timing for that to happen, me just getting started,” Fournier said. “I’m glad it’s over.”
Duane Rankin: #Suns updated injury report vs. Hawks. Frank Kaminsky III (health and safety protocols) OUT Abdel Nader (knee) OUT
Enes Kanter: Wow Just found out that my uncle in Turkey which I haven’t seen in 8 years, just passed away cause of COVID. Pray for him! Please take the vaccine seriously, It saves you & your loved ones Because of @RTErdogan, I can’t even pay proper respect to my uncle Screw you @RTErdogan
Evan Fournier's debut with the Boston Celtics will have to wait, as the newly acquired guard was placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols on Saturday. "I don't really want to get into the specifics of everything, because I don't know all the answers," coach Brad Stevens said before the Celtics played the Thunder in Oklahoma City. "As far as frustration, it's been a very consistent theme for us to be missing people. But hopefully that won't be long term. We'll see how this all goes and go from there."
Such as the COVID-19 vaccines, which some NBA athletes are opposed to taking. “No sir,” Warriors wing Kent Bazemore said Wednesday in a video conference with reporters.
Bazemore considers his decision “a lifestyle thing,” as he is not keen on making allowances. “I do everything I can to strengthen my immune system, with hours upon hours of cooking, preparing my meals at home, really being conscious of what I put in my body and taking care of my health,” he said. “My family has a history of heart disease and all these different things, and I’m trying to turn that around for my lineage. So, I’m taking it upon myself to do everything I can to keep my immune system strong and live a healthy and long life.”
Marc Stein: The NBA announces that of the 485 players tested leaguewide for COVID-19 since March 17, one new player has returned a confirmed positive test. pic.twitter.com/SczCrh3694
Ava Wallace: Scott Brooks, speaking pretty generally, says there have been talks with the Wizards about getting the vaccine. "There's a lot of people that probably need it more than myself... my stance is I'm willing to take a backseat. But there are definitely discussions."
Casey Holdahl: Injury update: both @Anfernee Simons and @Nassir Little are out for tonight's game due to health and safety protocols...
Unlike the teams, your staff is flying commercial, which adds another layer of potential risk. What has it been like for your staff? And how many have been affected by the virus? Monty McClutchen: Due to flying commercial, our referees have to leave two days in advance from home now, to make sure that they're getting several PCR-negative tests before they go on the floor. We can't do a PCR test, and then fly and then go on the floor. We have had some people test positive, a very, very small number. They were not impacting games at that point; the testing did exactly what it was supposed to do. But we've had people miss games. We've had more two-person games [instead of a three-person crew] than we've ever had in a season.
Omari Sanfoka II: Dwane Casey said he caught COVID-19 around the time Christian Wood had it, and the team didn't publicize it. Didn't have any strong symptoms. He's fully vaccinated now
Nick Friedell: Looney said he had a false positive COVID test but all his following tests came back negative. He’s just happy to be available to play again.
Jusuf Nurkic: I got my vaccine 💉 today. I can't live in fear of infecting someone else and the people I love. The best protection is vaccine and the fastest way to get back to normal. #HaveYourOpinion #MakeYourMove pic.twitter.com/qpbZFUT6cR
Mike Vorkunov: Derrick Rose rejoins the Knicks today. He had COVID-19. He says his family, including his kids, had it too. Rose: "It's real. The COVID thing, I know a lot of people overlook it but it's very serious. It's real... I had the flu. It was nothing like the flu...It was that x10."
The director of sports medicine at AdvocateAurora, and sports physician for the University of Illinois-Chicago, Skiba says the long-term effects of COVID-19 have stumped doctors and wishes he had better answers for players like Tatum—who is not a client, but sounds like one. “He’s not the exception,” Skiba says. “I see that at least a half dozen times a week.” “A lot of it is a mystery,” Skiba says. “It’s like having a fleet of Ferraris. It requires a certain amount of know-how and mechanics to be able to take care of that fleet. And right now, no one's got the owner's manual.”
Every team has been impacted by COVID-19 this season. According to a study by Fansure.com that analyzed the NBA’s official injury reports, all 30 teams have listed at least one player under the COVID-19-related “Health and Safety Protocols” designation. The Celtics and Mavericks have seen the most time spent in protocol (94 player-days for Boston; 91 player-days for Dallas).
Athletes of all kinds are looking for answers. Skiba has become quite prominent in the sports medicine space on Twitter for his work on COVID-19. He has been hearing from athletes—including NBA players—through Twitter direct messages. Mostly he advises NBA players to proceed with an extremely conservative approach. Skiba has seen several instances of endurance athletes coming back too soon, which sets them back for months. He’s seen collegiate runners who regularly used to post sub-15-minute 5Ks who still can’t clock in under 30 minutes months after COVID. “The scary part is,” Skiba says,” we don’t know why that is yet.”
In the fourteen seasons since 2005-06, Stotts has identified 307 confirmed cases of respiratory illness in the NBA including the flu, cold and upper respiratory infection (Stotts excluded last season for consistency purposes). In that sample, players, as a group, missed an average of 26.5 games a season to respiratory illness. 40 games into this season, that number is 213 games lost, or eight times as much as a normal.
Ian Begley: NBA announces that the league & NBPA have agreed to changes to the Health & Safety Protocols for any person who is 2 weeks past their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. There are also changes for any team where 85% of players & 85% of staff are fully-vaccinated. Details here: pic.twitter.com/3F78pCFmmv
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA, NBPA have agreed to new protocols for COVID-19 vaccinated individuals: - No quarantine for exposure - No PCR tests on days off - Interact with any other person at home (not at bar, club, lounge) - Go to outdoor restaurants - Four guests on road without prior testing
Derrick Rose has been out seven straight games because of COVID-19 issues — with Thibodeau saying Tuesday that he’s “feeling a a lot better.” But the coach had no date for his return. NBA sources said physicians analyze each COVID-19 situation case-by-case.
Shams Charania: Three new NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 490 tested since March 10, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Fred VanVleet practiced with the Toronto Raptors in Detroit on Tuesday, following a two-and-a-half-week absence triggered by a positive COVID-19 test result. On a Zoom call, the Raptors guard said that he had "two really bad days" of symptoms while "bunkered down" in isolation. "I tested positive, had symptoms pretty soon after that," VanVleet said. "Back sore. Body aches. I just (felt) like I just played three nights in a row. Sore, headache, my eyes were hurting. I didn't have the shortness of breath or anything like that. I had a fever for a day and a half, two days. But definitely nothing like anything I've ever had. I could feel that it was something different. I just felt the sickness, I could just feel it in me, I could feel it in my bones and my blood and my muscles."
"It was a whirlwind, definitely an experience that I won't forget," VanVleet said. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody. But I'm here, I'm alive, I'm breathing. And I know that there's a lot of people that didn't make it through COVID, so my thoughts and my heart is with the families and people that's been affected by this thing that weren't as fortunate as I was and as I am."
He expressed particular sympathy, however, for the coaches who have been away from the team, and took issue with a tweet from The Athletic's Shams Charania that cited sources saying inconsistent mask-wearing among members of the coaching staff accounted for the spread. "If I was named in that tweet as part of the blame, I would've been really, really mad," VanVleet said. "So, as a player who loves my coaching staff, I'm pissed off for them that that was even put out there. Shams is my guy, and I get it, he was reporting something that somebody told him. But whoever told him that is a few words I won't [say in] public."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Boston's Tristan Thompson is out tonight in health and safety protocol, team says.
Michael Singer: Asked Malone whether the NBA has incentivized players getting the vaccine. "To my knowledge, no. ... Right now, myself and all of our players get tested three times a day. I think you'd probably have a lot more people willing to get the vaccine if that number went from 3 to 1."
Dane Moore: Jaden McDaniels had inclusive results yesterday on his COVID test and was eventually placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, missing last night’s game. But that test was deemed a false positive, and McDaniels will be back on Tuesday night against the Lakers.
Harrison Wind: Nuggets injury report for tomorrow vs. Pacers: RJ Hampton (health and safety protocols), Gary Harris (left adductor strain) and Monte Morris (left quadriceps strain) are all out.
Tim MacMahon: The Mavs are awaiting approval from the NBA office before moving forward on plans for players and staff to get vaccinated, a source told ESPN.
Sources told ESPN that while the majority of players on the Pelicans who were eligible received the shot, not every player did. Pelicans reserve guard Sindarius Thornwell became the first player to publicly acknowledge his intent to get the vaccine with a tweet late Friday night.
The Pelicans worked with Ochsner Medical Center to get eligible member of the organization their first shot -- if they chose to receive it. "The three COVID vaccines we have are safe and effective and everyone who qualifies should get the shot as soon as they can," said Christina Edwards, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications for Gov. Edwards, in a statement to ESPN. "People, like members of the Pelicans, can consult with their doctors about if they might qualify because of their health conditions."
"League policy requires teams to follow their state's vaccination guidelines and programs and we are fully supportive of players and team staff being vaccinated when they are eligible," an NBA spokesperson said in a statement. Around the league, some coaches have begun to probe performance staff and team doctors, asking them when a vaccine will become available. At least one team intends to put together vaccine programs for staff and players, but that could still be weeks away.
The Pelicans received their vaccines through a partnership with a local hospital and in consultation with team doctors and officials. On Tuesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine, allowing anyone 16 or older with a health condition that may result in a higher risk of disease to get the vaccine.
One of the 12 conditions is being overweight, which is defined as someone having a body mass index of over 25, a criteria that many NBA players hit despite being professional athletes. Anyone in the state with conditions like asthma, hypertension and Type 1 diabetes are also now eligible.
One year ago, Andy Larsen had writer’s block in the weirdest place. He was sitting on the floor of an NBA arena, his back against the scorer’s table, his Cole Haans pointed toward center court. Being present for the shutdown of the NBA season is a once-in-a-lifetime story. Larsen wanted to write something good. He just couldn’t get his vital organs on the same page. Glancing at his Fitbit, Larsen saw his heart rate climb to 100 beats per minute. But his brain was moving like Greg Ostertag. “I couldn’t get out more than a sentence at a time that made any kind of narrative sense,” he said.
Larsen, who is 29, is one of two Utah Jazz beat writers at the Salt Lake Tribune. Thanks partly to his formative years as a TrueHoop Network blogger, Larsen asks tough questions without letting delicacy get in the way. Joe Ingles has blocked Larsen on Twitter. After a Jazz loss to the Pelicans this month, Larsen asked Donovan Mitchell why he missed so many dunks. “His charm is that he lacks all social tact,” said Ben Anderson, who covers the Jazz for KSLsports.com.
March 11, 2020, was one of the great record scratches in sportswriting history. To find a decent comp, you’d have to go back to a spasm of terror at the Olympics or maybe a soccer riot. Three Jazz beat writers went to Oklahoma City to see whether the team could get a leg up on the 4-seed in the Western Conference. They wound up covering a league shutdown that signaled just how severe the pandemic would become in the United States. Personal fear became part of an NBA beat job in a way the writers had never experienced. “I like this [job] because I don’t have to see dead bodies,” said Anderson. “I like this because I don’t have to deal with the heavy part of it. The worst thing that is going to happen to me this year is that a bunch of 76ers fans are mad at me.”
September 28, 2021 | 3:30 pm EDT Update
Jeff Zillgitt: Within this story is obviously the Ben Simmons situation, and while the Sixers said yesterday they want him on the court, they’re also targeting the Western Conference for potential trade partners, I’m told.
Dane Moore: Karl-Anthony Towns on his offseason workout plan: “Instead of trying to be more flexible and quick, let’s try to be more strong and big… I joked around the whole offseason I wanted to be a GI Joe. My workouts consisted of lifting the heaviest dumbbell in the whole gym.”
Christopher Hine: One note from Timberwolves practice today. Asked Chris Finch how analytics play a role in his lineup combinations and one little nugget he offered was that the Wolves tend to look at three-man lineup combinations to help dictate those decisions.
September 28, 2021 | 3:19 pm EDT Update
Kellan Olson: Monty Williams said the Suns tried for two years to acquire Landry Shamet but teams kept telling them no. Compared Shamet to Saric in terms of how coachable and how good of a teammate he is.