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Chase Hughes: Kyle Kuzma said he was pretty sick during his stint in Covid protocol. Said his first game back "was a struggle" because of how the symptoms and not playing for a few days affected his breathing.

http://twitter.com/TheTraeYoung/status/1475197208819605513
Cody Taylor: B.J. Johnson and Chuma Okeke are out today at Miami due to health and safety protocols, the Magic announced. R.J. Hampton has been cleared from protocols and is available for today’s game.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to make his return to the lineup vs. Boston today (2:30 PM ET, ABC), sources tell ESPN. After 10 days in protocols, the two-time MVP had a strong workout on Friday and -- barring a setback -- is expected to be available.
Shams Charania: Milwaukee Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo will make his season debut on Christmas Day vs. the Boston Celtics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. DiVincenzo was set to return Dec. 15 from June ankle surgery before entering protocols. Now, he’s back.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Hawks center Clint Capela has cleared Covid protocols and will play vs. the Knicks (noon, ESPN). Capela averages 11.5 points and 12.8 rebounds. Hawks still have eight players in protocols, including Trae Young. More on a two-hour NBA Countdown at 10 AM ET on ESP
Toppin said he “didn’t have a lot of symptoms” after testing positive for COVID-19, but he mostly spent his 10 days idled in his bedroom away from his family. He said he worked out with elastic bands and watched “a lot of basketball” and a couple of Netflix shows. “Man, I was aching in that bed. I’ve never been in bed for that long,” Toppin said. “Like, that was the longest 10 days of my life, I ain’t gonna lie to you.”
Marc Stein: The Celtics just issued a five-tweet injury report for their Christmas Day game at Milwaukee. Among the key updates: Al Horford (health and safety protocols) and Marcus Smart (left hip contusion) are now questionable. More from me: marcstein.substack.com
Chris Kirschner: For tomorrow’s game at New York: Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain) is probable.  Delon Wright (left ankle sprain) is probable. Clint Capela (health and safety protocols) is out Sharife Cooper (health and safety protocols) is out.  Danilo Gallinari (health and safety protocols) out
Sarah K. Spencer: Hawks injury report for Christmas Day game adds that Onyeka Okongwu is out in health and safety protocols. That's nine players in protocols for them. Both Cam Reddish and Delon Wright are probable to play. pic.twitter.com/B4MXbX60jK
Adrian Wojnarowski: After playing one game on a 10-day deal, Atlanta's Wes Iwundu has entered Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN. Iwundu played 23 minutes in the Hawks' victory over the 76ers.
When the Nets were pulling Brown off the court, they delivered Harden his testing news in the training room. Beyond the din of the Barclays crowd, Harden looked at Brown, and Brown looked at Harden, and they wondered what in the world was happening. "You feel anything?" Harden asked him. "I'm good," Brown said. "You?" No symptoms, Harden told him. Feeling fine.
On a weekly league medical call on Dec. 14, one team health official said the Bulls expressed frustration that they had a number of asymptomatic player cases, with each required to be sidelined for 10 days. Given the urgency of their situation, the Bulls were testing everyone, but they asked, why wasn't every other team doing the same? The Bulls believed there were more asymptomatic players out there, and that the league, by not mandating daily testing, wasn't doing enough to try and find them, a source said. To the Bulls, it felt unfair -- that they were suffering from a competitive disadvantage.
For the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, mandated daily testing in a league with a nearly 97% player vaccination rate didn't make sense. And their respective infectious disease experts agreed, according to league sources. Instead, as the winter months approached and cases started to surge nationally, the league urged booster shots, increased testing around Thanksgiving and advised continued vigilance.
Privately, several team executives and team health officials believed not testing everyone was financially motivated, though league officials have disputed this characterization to ESPN. For now, when a team has a positive case, that team is encouraged -- but not required -- to test all players and potentially impacted staff to see how far the virus has spread; the same is recommended when a team faces another team that has detected a positive test.
But the circumstances this winter are different. While nearly all players are vaccinated, team health officials note that almost one-third of players received the Johnson & Johnson single-shot dose, which offers the lowest level of protection compared to Pfizer and Moderna. There are concerns about waning immunity; only about 65% of eligible players have received booster shots, roughly 275 total players, sources say.
Adrian Wojnarowski: New Orleans' Naji Marshall has entered Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN.
Jim Eichenhofer: Willie Green said Nickeil Alexander-Walker is "feeling fine" but is in health and safety protocols. #Pelicans are without both Valanciunas and NAW tonight at Orlando. They were the only New Orleans players to have appeared in all 32 games (Temple, Murphy next with 30)
Khobi Price: R.J. Hampton is out of the NBA's COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols. He won't be available tonight vs. the Pelicans as works on his conditioning.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA is nearing an agreement with the NBPA to lessen the quarantine period for Covid-positive players, sources tell ESPN. In some testing cases, the current 10-day quarantine protocol could be shortened to clear players for return. This a similar model to the NFL’s new plan.
Shams Charania: The NBA and NBPA are in talks on shortened quarantines for players who test positive for COVID-19, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Sides are discussing allowing players to return faster – as soon as six days – based on testing cycle threshold.
Chris Kirschner: For tonight’s game at Philadelphia: Clint Capela (health and safety protocols) is out. Danilo Gallinari (health and safety protocols) is out. Solomon Hill (right hamstring tear) is out. Kevin Huerter (health and safety protocols) is out.
Chris Kirschner: De’Andre Hunter (right wrist injury recovery) is out. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (health and safety protocols) is out. Lou Williams (health and safety protocols) is out. Trae Young (health and safety protocols) is out.
Shams Charania: Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom has entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. He becomes the eighth Celtic to enter protocols.
Adrian Wojnarowski: New Orleans Pelicans G Nickeil Alexander-Walker has entered the league’s Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN. He had 27 points in victory over Portland on Tuesday. Alexander-Walker is Pels’ first player in protocols this season.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Jevon Carter is also out of health and safety protocols. That makes 3 Nets (James Harden, Paul Millsap and Carter) out of health and safety protocols.
As The Athletic reported last week, the NBA has put some thought to allowing COVID-positive but asymptomatic players to keep playing instead of quarantining — right now, the NBA says players must sit out at least 10 days after a positive test — but Silver said the NBA “is not quite there yet.” Any change would come after negotiation and an agreement with the NBA players union; no discussions about this have occurred yet, according to a source.
According to a person with direct knowledge of Silver’s thinking, the commissioner has confronted this month’s 100-plus new cases — and counting — by trying not to make up precedents on the fly. Silver, this high-level source tells Rolling Stone, knows he could be criticized even more for inventing parameters for a return-to-play than for believing in a vaccine mandate: “Just as there’s no magic playbook to when you shut down the season, there’s no playbook for when you come back. He has a rulebook right now, and his rulebook says that if you have eight players, you play.”
According to an internal memo sent from league doctors to teams on Thursday and obtained by RS, both sides have also agreed to increased masking and a temporary reinstatement of mandatory daily testing for vaccinated but unboosted players between Dec. 26 and Jan. 8. This annoys basketball players, who have been swabbed more than perhaps any industry’s employees throughout the pandemic, and sources suggested that the union is almost certain to let the policy lapse following the holidays.
While Adam Silver recently announced the NBA will not follow the NHL's lead and suspend the season, Goldstein says the best thing to do is shut it down. "Regardless of what the NHL did, the NBA should close down as soon as possible," Goldstein said at Dwight Howard's OxeFit after-party at the SoHo Warehouse. "Most of these players (who test positive) are healthy. If the NBA wants to let them play, that's another story. But if they forbid them from playing, I feel cheated as a fan, going to the games and watching G League players play instead of the stars."
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August 17, 2022 | 4:55 am EDT Update
NBA analyst Brian Windhorst discussed the trade situation earlier this week on ESPN’s Get Up. Windhorst inferred that Durant has lost all of the leverage in the trade talks but so did the Nets. “The dynamic around Kevin Durant hasn’t changed at all. There hasn’t been an urgency in trade talks. There hasn’t been a change in strategy by the Brooklyn Nets,” said Windhorst. Windhorst reported, “I think what we have here is really a study of leverage. First off, the Nets do not have leverage in trade talks with other teams. They are not giving them the offers that they want. They see no reason to increase them. So, they’re not making any progress there. Kevin Durant clearly does not have leverage with the Brooklyn Nets. He is asking for things: ‘Get me traded. Fire the coach. Fire the GM.’ He is being told no. So, when you have denied leverage, you have a stalemate.”
While Kevin Durant continues to prefer a trade from the Brooklyn Nets and the trade offers the team has received haven’t satisfied them, the two parties have remained in limbo throughout the offseason. The Nets will continue to listen to trade offers, but they are also hoping Durant changes his mind and gives their team another chance this season. “What’s kind of developed over those 47 days is we now kind of have two different negotiations,” said Brian Windhorst on NBA Today on Tuesday. “One, of course, is with all those teams interested in Kevin Durant and the Nets. We just haven’t seen significant traction with any of those deals. The Nets’ asking price is very high. Their leverage for getting those teams who are interested in offering so much just hasn’t materialized.
“The other negotiation that is now developing is between Durant and the Nets. That separate negotiation about what it would like for him to come back. That’s what a big part of the discussion he had with owner Joe Tsai in London about 10, 11 days ago was. Joe Tsai and the Nets believe they have a really good team. They don’t believe they have a good trade for Kevin Durant. They want him to consider coming back. But Durant has very clearly made it known he doesn’t want to play for the Nets under the current situation with the current coach and current GM.

Speculation ran rampant: pundits and fans alike wondered whether he had any desire to play on the team, whether he’d be the first player in NBA history to turn down a max rookie extension, whether he’d prove one of the most significant busts in NBA draft history. Much of the chatter focused uncomfortably on his size. As he’s so often done during difficult times, Williamson turned to his favorite show for guidance. I ask if there’s a point in Naruto’s story that he feels is synonymous with where he is right now. His answer is immediate. “It’s when Sasuke was going rogue,” he says, referring to Naruto’s close friend and rival. “All of Naruto’s friends and teammates came to him like, ‘Dude, you’re gonna have to make tough decisions if you really want to be Hokage.’”