A number of its players had declined to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots. The team was worried that an outbreak could derail its postseason hopes. Team executives began setting up meetings aimed at swaying the unvaccinated players. They provided data outlining the scientific benefits to them as individuals and to their families as well as information regarding the safety of the vaccine. That didn’t work.
Next, the team tried dangling the NBA’s updated and more relaxed COVID protocols, which made life easier for vaccinated players. They faced fewer tests, had fewer restrictions and, crucially, were not required to quarantine after an exposure to the virus. The unvaccinated players still didn’t budge. Finally, the team tried appealing to the players’ self-interests. There was money to be made in the postseason, it told the players, whether via playoff bonuses, contract incentives, or by flourishing under the spotlight and burnishing their respective reputations.
That pitch didn’t work, either. The team finished the season with less than 70% of its players vaccinated. "We tried everything," a staff member from that team told FOX Sports. "None of it mattered."
Now, with the 2021-22 regular season just a month away and players returning to their local markets for training camp next week, a number of NBA organizations find themselves confronting similar challenges, only with more urgency. The combination of new league protocols and more stringent local regulations could create an environment in which vaccine hesitancy becomes an issue that impacts on-court results. In other words, the final standings this season could very well be impacted by the vaccination status of players.
The NBA, according to a league spokesman, believes that around 85% of its players are currently vaccinated; National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts put the number at 90% during a July interview with Yahoo Sports. Those numbers are about 10-to-15% more than the overall rate of American adults who are vaccinated. But that still means that somewhere between 50 and 70 NBA players remain unvaccinated, an average of more than two per squad. Depending on how those players are grouped, what city they play in, and how good they are, it’s clear that any team entering the season with low vaccination rates will be at a competitive disadvantage.
One player who could be affected is Nets guard Kyrie Irving. According to multiple league sources, Irving has yet to receive a vaccine shot. Both the Nets and a spokeswoman for Irving declined to comment on the record about Irving’s vaccination status, but Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked during a news conference on Tuesday whether New York City’s mandate could sideline any of his team’s players.
It's probably not an overstatement at all to say the Washington Wizards have been affected more by the coronavirus than any other NBA team. They were the first team to experience a major outbreak last season with six of their games postponed in January. Then, star guard Bradley Beal had to exit Team USA just days before the Olympics because of a positive test. And then, during the Las Vegas Summer League, their roster was once again deeply affected by an outbreak, notably preventing point guard Cassius Winston from appearing in a game.
So, while it's a pertinent question for any professional sports team these days, the Wizards' vaccination rate arguably carries more importance as they prepare to enter a new season. Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard addressed the media on Thursday ahead of the team's training camp opening next week and was asked a series of questions about the team's vaccination efforts. He stopped short of specifics to protect players' privacy. "Everything is great. We have our roster, everybody is fully-educated and fully-informed. We will be in compliance and we're looking forward to the season," Sheppard said. "A lot of that stuff, you're getting into some personal and private information. We're not going to go down that road. But we'll be in great compliance with the NBA and moving forward."
Fans planning to head to TD Garden to watch the Bruins or Celtics this season — as well attend concerts — will need to pack a copy of their coronavirus vaccination proof or get a negative COVID-19 test.
TD Garden officials said on Wednesday that starting Sept. 30 guests 12 years old and older will need to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative rapid or PCR coronavirus test. Self-administered or over-the-counter test results will not be accepted. Officials said the timeline on tests — whether they need to have been within 24 or 72 hours of the event — is yet to be determined.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has informed teams of set coronavirus testing protocols for players for the 2021-22 season: Fully-vaccinated: No regular testing Non-fully-vaccinated: One negative test on Practice/Travel day; One negative test on Game Day.
Months after drawing an estimated 100,000 people to downtown's Deer District, the Milwaukee Bucks might revise the basketball team's development plans for sites near Fiserv Forum. That reevaluation is partly motivated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on how people live, work and play, said Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks president.
The phenomena of tens of thousands of Bucks fans during the July NBA title run filling the Deer District plaza, and overflow sites destined for future development, is playing a role in the reevaluation, he said. Among the guiding principles, Feigin said, is how the Bucks "can create a safe, fun meeting place for the state of Wisconsin." Almost 500 COVID-19 cases were later linked to fans who attended Deer District watch parties or a game during the NBA title run.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA will return to normal team bench seating for the 2021-22 season, with teams no longer requiring cool down/timeout chairs or assigned seats. Game day personnel are currently expected to be required to wear facemasks at start of season.
The NBA informed teams Friday that all personnel under team control who work within 15 feet of players or referees during games will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. The directive specifically includes coaches, front-office members and trainers but stops short of requiring all players to be vaccinated.
Shams Charania: Sources: Any NBA team, arena and personnel whose role involves interactions with players and referees will be required to be fully vaccinated to have in-person interactions for the 2021-22 season — including coaches, front office and medical/equipment staff.
Memphis basketball assistant coach Larry Brown contracted the delta variant of COVID-19 following the 2021 Nike EYBL Peach Jam Basketball Tournament last month. Brown disclosed the news during an appearance on the Jason and John Show on 92.9 FM ESPN Friday.
"Unfortunately I got sick, right after it was over, I got that delta variant, and I was kind of out for about 10 to 12 days, but I'm all good now and you know anxious to get back," Brown said. Brown, 80, is vaccinated and said he has made a full recovery.
Harrison Wind: Zeke Nnaji, rookie Bones Hyland and Markus Howard are among the Nuggets who won't play tonight at Summer League due to health and safety protocols, a source told DNVR. Bol Bol will play, and the 7-2 big man will be at the center of Denver's game plan. thednvr.com/what-to-watch-…
Chris Mannix: Wizards-Pacers summer league game has been postponed due to health and safety protocols, sources told @SInow.
Scott Agness: Pacers’ first summer league game, against the Wizards, has been postponed due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Wizards do not have enough players available due to contract tracing.
The Washington Wizards added the following players to their Summer League roster today: Cheick Diallo, Asante Gist and Derrick Walton Jr. In addition, guards Cassius Winston and Issuf Sanon and forward Isaiah Todd have entered the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Jeremy Lin has tested positive for Covid-19 and is receiving treatment in Shanghai, the former NBA guard and first Asian-American to win an NBA title said in a social media post Saturday. Lin announced in June he was rejoining the Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks after a failed NBA comeback. He tested positive for coronavirus on his third day in quarantine after flying to Shanghai from San Francisco, the 32-year-old posted on Chinese social network Weibo. "I was shocked and a little bewildered," he wrote of his initial reaction to the diagnosis.
Nearly 500 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in people who congregated in Milwaukee's Deer District to cheer on the Milwaukee Bucks during the NBA playoffs last month. At least 491 cases have arisen from people who "self-declared" they attended a Deer District gathering at some point during the month of July, according to Milwaukee Health Department spokesperson Emily Tau.
Jason Jones: Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement as a condition of employment for full-time and part-time team members by November 1.
The state Department of Health Services reported that 491 people with confirmed or probable cases said they had attended the Deer District or Bucks game "during their exposure or infectious periods" but the department could not say definitively that they caught the virus while viewing the game downtown or elsewhere. The department also said the figure was likely an undercount. "We anticipated an increase in positive cases due to the delta variant but 155% increase in one week is distressing,"Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.
Michael Singer: #Nuggets cancel their first Summer League practice due to health and safety protocols, team announces.
Rockets coach Stephen Silas was unable to attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team's draft picks because he is in NBA health and safety protocols. Silas said he has “very minor symptoms” and that he is fully vaccinated for COVID. NBA protocols require coaches, players and staff to isolate if they have been in contact with individuals that tested positive.
The year couldn’t have gone worse for Ziaire Williams during his time at Stanford. He lost several family members to COVID-19. His team was not able to practice or play at their home facility to pandemic-related restrictions. He was essentially living fully in hotels for the first few months of the season and there was no sense of normalcy.
According to one prospect who recently spoke to For The Win, due to COVID-19 restrictions, those not invited to the green room are not allowed to come to the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner as they have been in years past. Regardless of who is actually in the building, however, it is certain to be an exciting and life-changing night for the next generation of NBA talent. Based on conversations I’ve had with scouts around the league, and from reports and tea leaves left in other mock drafts from trusted draftniks, below is how I project the events will unfold at Barclays Center and on ESPN and ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET on July 29.
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety player protocols for 2021 Summer League in Las Vegas:
Gerald Bourguet: Thanasis Antetokounmpo remains out for Game 6 due to health and safety protocols. No one new on the Suns' or Bucks' injury reports otherwise
Adrian Wojnarowski: Bucks assistant Josh Oppenheimer won’t be on bench for Game 5, sources tell @malika_andrews and me.
Adrian Wojnarowski: This will be the third consecutive game that Oppenheimer has been away from Milwaukee’s bench, sources tell @malika_andrews and me.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Oppenheimer has been in contact tracing and there’s hope he could be back on bench for Game 6 on Tuesday, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: Mike Budenholzer says the Bucks will not have a full staff available for tonight’s game in the wake of Thanasis Antetokounmpo entering the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols this afternoon ahead of tonight’s Game 5.
Malika Andrews: Thanasis Antetokounmpo has entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and is out for Game 5, according to the Bucks’ injury report.
Chase Hughes: Bam Adebayo, who has had Covid before, on Bradley Beal: "This is one of those things I wouldn't wish on anybody. It does give you PTSD. But I did check with Brad, he said he has no symptoms. So, I think this will pass through and it will be okay."
Neil Dalal: Draymond Green says that if Team USA wins gold in Tokyo he hopes Bradley Beal receives one too because he made the commitment to represent his country.
It was just good, Silver said, to be back in the same place together. "There aren't that many places, even pre-pandemic, where people gather in the way they do in arenas, come together for a common purpose ... and literally breathe each other's air," he said. "I think that's part of the human connection. I really do miss that."
FOR SOME, LIKE Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Richardson, the past 16 months are probably best forgotten. "I mean, I got COVID twice," Richardson says. "I'm hoping that this is just a memory that we look back on a few years and like, 'Oh yeah, that was crazy.'" But then he caught himself.
"I think my takeaway is how adaptable we are," he says. "How proud I am that everybody was able to ... the NBA was able to make a semi-safe space for us to be able to compete."
Richardson says he didn't have any symptoms the first time and quarantined at his house -- with his dog, Champ -- for 25 days. "That was before we knew anything about it," he says. "We didn't even test every day, so it could've been a false positive. But I was scared. I didn't want to give it to anyone else." He also didn't want to talk about it publicly. "At the beginning, people would look at you funny," he says. "Like you had the plague."
For the next 11 days, Richardson sat alone in his hotel room in Denver. "The only time I opened the door was to get tested at 7 in the morning and 5 at night," he says. "I could order Uber Eats. But they'd leave it at the front desk, and the people at the hotel would bring it up and knock on the door and sprint away."
One of the days he noticed what looked like a music video being filmed on top of the bus station. "That was entertaining!" he says. "I watched the whole production. They had an orange Mustang and people standing on top of it."
EVERY COACH IN the league had to find a way to talk to players about everything they'd be signing up for this season. From daily testing -- which was more like three times a day during the height of the surge in January -- to the lack of personal freedom on the road to restrictions on how many family members and friends they could see. "We actually talked to the team about [the safety protocols] many times during the season," Kerr says. "'Yeah, this sucks, but you really have to put it in perspective and remember how fortunate we are to be working."
There were no fans in arenas for the first few months. Some teams covered the empty seats; others put up cardboard cutouts. Everyone played music and piped in fake crowd noise to try to distract from the silence. But that was almost worse, Kerr says. "It was almost like laugh tracks in a sitcom," he says. "You could tell it was a little fake, and the timing would be just off. Somebody makes a great play and the reaction is a split-second late."
John Karalis: USA basketball announces Bradley Beal will miss the Olympics due to the health and safety protocols. Jerami Grant is now also in the protocol "out of an abundance of caution"
Shams Charania: Team USA's Jerami Grant has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, sources tell me and @joevardon . Grant has not tested positive for coronavirus. He and Bradley Beal are in protocols in Las Vegas.
A person with knowledge of the situation says U.S. Olympic guard Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards has entered the health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus, which raises the possibility that he might miss the Tokyo Games.
Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said. USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo.
Shams Charania: Wizards star Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, placing his return to play status up in the air, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon.
Tim Reynolds: AP source: USA Basketball guard Bradley Beal has entered the health and safety protocols in Las Vegas, raising the possibility that he may not be able to attend the Tokyo Games. There is nothing definitive about that at this point.
The Milwaukee Health Department will have COVID-19 vaccines available at Fiserv Forum Plaza on Wednesday, July 14 ahead of Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Fans who receive their vaccination will be entered to win two tickets to that night’s game, donated by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Joe Vardon: Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said three players from the US select team (which practices against the Olympic team) are out of training camp due to testing positive to COVID-19. No Olympic player tested positive, he said.
Brian Windhorst: Immanuel Quickley, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges of the USA Select Team are out of training camp in Las Vegas due to COVID protocols, sources said. All members of Team USA were at practice today.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league's ability to get over a million fans back into attendance during the playoffs has helped the league stem its financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We did somewhat better than we initially projected," Silver said Tuesday before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. "We don't have the exact numbers yet, but maybe we'll be down roughly a third in revenue, something around there, instead of 40 percent."
The Celtics led the NBA in one category this season: Games lost by players due to to Covid-19 precautions and infections. And teams around the league seemingly noticed. During a recent segment on NBC Sports Boston (captured by OMF), longtime NBA reporter Chris Mannix revealed the Washington Wizards went as far as to complain to the league office about the behavior of some Celtics players. Washington endured one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks all season, with seven players testing positive for the virus over a four-day period in mid-January. The Wizards played the Celtics Jan. 8, and apparently blamed them.
“The Celtics were among the teams that I know of that didn’t take Covid seriously,” Mannix said. “They continued to go out on the road, and would find ways to skirt the rules at times when they were traveling. They didn’t take these protocols seriously — not as seriously as some other teams did. Washington, when they had all of their Covid issues back in January and early February, they blamed Boston. They complained to the league that the Celtics, because of what they had heard about players going out in Florida I believe it was, they believed they contracted their issues through the Celtics.”
Gabriel Deck tested positive for coronavirus, the Argentina Basketball Confederation announced Friday. Deck, 26, has been retested ahead of the planned trip of the senior Argentina national team to Las Vegas. The results of the second test are pending. He will rejoin the national team training camp once he is cleared, assuming the second test confirms he contracted COVID-19. In the meantime, he remains isolated. He is asymptomatic and in very good health, as noted by the CABB.
Kellan Olson: Chris Paul said he messed around a bit on the court at his house but other than that didn't do anything while he was under health and safety protocols. On testing positive for the virus: "Shit happens."
Gina Mizell: Chris Paul said that a few "stars in our league" called to check on him while in protocols and told him "they just love the way our team is" as far as playing together and for each other #Suns
Paul underwent a cardio exam Wednesday morning and passed, which is the final step to clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, sources said. Paul has been in the protocols since June 16. The 36-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 last week despite having been vaccinated, sources said.
He found out the news upon arriving in Los Angeles after sweeping the Denver Nuggets and has been quarantining ever since. The trip to L.A. was to surprise his wife and kids, sources said. Yahoo Sports reported prior that Paul was asymptomatic. How he contracted the virus is still a mystery, sources said.
June 25, 2022 | 5:45 pm EDT Update
Joe Mussatto: Sam Presti on Lu Dort’s team option: “Obviously it’s our plan to exercise that pending anything different.” Significant news. The Thunder could have declined the option to make Dort a restricted free agent.
Rylan Stiles: Chet Holmgren confirms it took nothing to get Darius Bazley to switch his number “at first I got a list of numbers available and 7 wasn’t on there, then I got a list an hour later and 7 was on there.” Bazley is now number 55.
Former Mississippi State forward Garrison Brooks agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the New York Knicks as an undrafted free agent. This allows Brooks to compete this for a spot on the team’s regular season roster.
French guard Elie Okobo has signed a deal with the 2022 French League runner-ups AS Monaco with a yearly salary worth 1M euros, according to Eurohoops sources. Earlier on Saturday, Okobo led ASVEL to its third consecutive French Betclic Elite trophy with 20 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds.