NBA rumors: Billy Donovan would understand if Bulls player didn't want to play due to COVID-19 circumstances

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Tony East: Lloyd Pierce says that Rick Carlisle had a bit of a headache, which led to him getting COVID tested in the first place. He’s doing better today. Pierce has a lot of head coaching experience, but he’s leaning on assists (Boucek and Weinar) who were with Dallas last year tonight.
Josh Lewenberg: So far, no Raptors players have tested positive, I'm told. They're scheduled to face the Knicks at home tomorrow.
The Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors separately announced Thursday morning that they had canceled practice out of "an abundance of caution" due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. Both teams played home games Wednesday night, with the Pacers defeating the New York Knicks and the Raptors losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both are scheduled to host games Friday, with the Pacers getting a visit from the Mavericks in the first meeting between Dallas and its former coach, Rick Carlisle, now coaching Indiana, while the Raptors host the Knicks.
Katy Winge: Bones Hyland has been upgraded to doubtful for tomorrow’s game vs the Pelicans. He’s getting closer to being cleared. Nikola Jokić has been added to the Nuggets injury report with a right forearm contusion. He is probable.
Shams Charania: Sources: Beginning Jan. 15, any NBA player who is not fully vaccinated will be unable to enter Canada to play games in Toronto. Canadian government will require all individuals entering Canada to be fully vaccinated.
Michael Singer: Billy Donovan said he hasn’t heard any talk about a league suspension/pause given the surging COVID cases. Said the question is always if or what the number would need to be for a team to have too few players to compete. Reiterated he hasn’t heard that talk.
NBA players who have not received the COVID-19 booster dose will be subject to game-day testing starting Dec. 17, sources tell The Athletic. Also on Dec. 17, team personnel who have yet to receive the booster shot are no longer permitted to interact with players, travel with their team or continue with Tier 1 status.
Phoenix Suns lead assistant Kevin Young didn't make trip for Suns rematch against Golden State as he's under NBA's health and safety protocols, league sources inform The Republic. Young is the only one out under health and safety protocols as this will be third game straight game he's missed after testing positive for COVID-19, league sources say.
Mike McGraw: According to injury report, Javonte Green is in health and safety protocols. He played vs Knicks last night. Also, Alex Caruso is questionable for BKN on Sat with hamstring. #Bulls
Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson might have put his playoff status in jeopardy by attending a Toronto Raptors game at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday. Bethel-Thompson is being held out of practice Friday for attending the game, a violation of the CFL’s COVID protocol which states he must now quarantine for four days, according to TSN’s Dave Naylor.
A four-day quarantine would rule out Bethel-Thompson for the Argonauts’ East Division Final against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at BMO Field on Sunday. The Argonauts are owned by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Partnership, the same group that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, Toronto Marlies and Toronto FC, among other entities.
Shams Charania: NBA statement on LeBron James: pic.twitter.com/amAumGxLO9

http://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/1466546092531671040
Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said "it's going to take awhile" for him to fully round back into form after an extended bout with COVID-19. Embiid had his second straight rough shooting performance in Wednesday's 88-87 loss to the Boston Celtics. "I would never use it as an excuse but obviously I think it's going to take me awhile to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff," Embiid said after going 3-for-17 against Boston, making him a combined 7-for-33 across Philadelphia's past two games. "But every single day I got to keep working hard, and keep getting better."
Embiid, however, shouldered the blame for the loss. "I can't be playing the way I've played these last two games, especially when it comes to shotmaking," Embiid said after finishing with 13 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, two steals and three blocks in 33 minutes. "If teams are going to double me and I'm not going to get easy baskets, I have to create for myself and my teammates, and I've got to make those shots."
Marc Stein: The Lakers' LeBron James has entered the NBA's health and safety protocols after increased testing was instituted leaguewide post-Thanksgiving. Teams were notified Nov. 19 that all players would have to test daily for COVID-19 from Nov. 28-Dec. 1 unless the team had an off day.
Adrian Wojnarowski: LeBron James -- who the Lakers are listing in health and safety protocols -- is expected to miss several games, source tells ESPN. Players with positive Covid cases must be out a minimum of 10 days.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The NBA’s completed study with infectious disease specialists and testing manufacturers on preseason antibody test results of 2,300 players and staff, finding further evidence of need for the NBA-NBPA recommendation of booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Among study’s findings: Antibody levels vary via vaccine type and among people vaccinated in same period; antibodies decline over time; Moderna and Pfizer vaccines created higher levels of antibodies compared to J&J. After reviewing results, NBA’s infectious disease experts believe some individuals who received J&J vaccine at least two months ago – or a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago – have increased risk of breakthrough infections.
Adrian Wojnaroski: Per study, NBA's aware of 34 cases of vaccinated player or staff diagnosed with breakthrough case of Covid. 3 of 34 infections with individuals with "not detected" antibody levels; 31 of 34 had detectable antibody levels much lower than average of remaining testing population.
Noah Levick: Joel Embiid on having COVID-19: “I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. It was that bad.” Embiid said his first workout was a couple days ago and it’s a “miracle” he played 45 minutes tonight.
Everyone has their reasons to stay home, and those decisions add up. NBA and NHL attendance are way down from 2018-19, the last season in either league that COVID-19 didn't shorten. Through Thursday, 23 NBA and 23 NHL franchises were experiencing spectatorship decreases. Of those 46 teams, 27 have seen attendance dip by more than 10%. Eight clubs are down more than 20%. These teams are spread across the United States and Canada, but all are playing indoors during a pandemic that won't relent.
Shams Charania: Sources: Clippers‘ Nicolas Batum is expected to miss at least 10 days due to health and safety protocols. Batum entered protocols and missed a win over Dallas today, which moved the Clippers to 10-7 on the season.
It was July 4, 2021, and a franchise secret at the time, according to multiple officials familiar with the inner-workings of the Bucks, was that nobody outside of a small braintrust knew whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo was vaccinated against Covid-19. The Delta variant was beginning to raise fresh hell. And the superstar’s vaccine secret — combined with what a high-ranking official who was just outside the braintrust called “hiccups” from Bucks management — stoked fear among employees across the franchise: That the highly contagious strain might come for them all… but especially for the most dominant athlete in the world.
The official recalls Milwaukee’s Delta blues: “We were very concerned that Giannis wasn’t vaccinated and that, with all of this exposure from all these different people,” the franchise cornerstone — a one-man band and the new face of the NBA — might get infected, or at least contact-traced by the NBA and forced to quarantine, potentially altering the course of sports history. “It hit everybody pretty quickly, but the biggest thing was: Just make sure Giannis tests negative.”
All season long, the Bucks had been almost fanatical in adhering to the league’s draconian virus protocols. The franchise had not permitted such passengers to join players on the road during the first three rounds of the playoffs, as they hunkered down with a long-standing mantra: Stay locked in. The temptation of Milwaukee’s first NBA title in 50 years, however, opened the Delta floodgates. “Of course we’re bringing our families,” three people remember head coach Mike Budenholzer telling the team. “It’s the Finals!”
When presented with the findings of a Rolling Stone investigation, the NBA’s Covid czar David Weiss and Alex Lasry, who was the Bucks’ senior vice president until he announced a U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year, acknowledged the previously unreported scale of a championship cluster. “This is the NBA Finals,” Lasry told Rolling Stone in an interview last week, on his way back from Joe Biden’s White House celebration of the Bucks’ eventual championship. “The last thing we need is for any of our guys — from the coach to the trainers to any of the players — is to be out. And even when you’re trying to be as responsible as possible, this virus is still going to make its way through.”
Upwards of a dozen people associated with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns tested positive for Covid-19 during the Finals, according to league sources and four team officials with knowledge of the situation: six vaccinated staffers, including coaching and medical staffers from the Bucks; family members and people in both franchise entourages; and one player, Giannis’ brother and teammate Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks refused to confirm a possibly frightening irony: Two officials say that a Milwaukee official responsible for keeping the team Covid-free tested positive during the Finals himself. “Hearing that the Suns also had issues, too, was a little bit scary,” says a second NBA official who was traveling with the Bucks. “It felt like Covid just dropped back out of the sky, came out of nowhere and just tried its best to ruin the Finals.”
Head coach Mike Budenholzer, recalls a source in attendance, encouraged his team to spend time with their guests: “Bud was super-imperative that everybody goes and sits with their family members, so everybody actually went out for the most part and spent time with their friends and family who came on the trip on the charter. So we were fully interactive with those people.” (Budenholzer’s agent referred a request for comment to the Bucks, who declined to comment.)
Eric Nehm: Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said he expects Middleton to play tomorrow night vs. the Lakers and confirmed there will be a ramp-up period for Middleton as they get him back in the fold. That would suggest minutes limits on how first few games, but Bud did not provide details.
Eric Nehm: Asked Khris Middleton whether or not he had any symptoms of COVID-19. Middleton: “Yeah. I had a couple symptoms. The night I went home, I felt sick. Maybe two days afterward, I felt sick. After that then, I started to get back to my normal self.”
Samantha Pell: New: Effective Nov. 22, fans will no longer be required to wear masks while at Capital One Arena, per @MSE. NBA-specific: “Pursuant to NBA mandates, fans will still be required to wear masks in player-proximate seating areas for Wizards games.”
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August 11, 2022 | 2:12 am EDT Update

Robert Williams not available in potential trade involving Kevin Durant

There’s good reason for pessimism, Durant’s ultimatum to Nets owner Joe Tsai did not light a fire under trade talks. If anything, it made it far less likely a deal gets done in the short term. — why would Boston improve its offer now? It robbed the Nets of leverage. For example, Brooklyn was trying to get Boston to put Smart in the trade, but why would they even consider it now? That said, even without Smart (or Robert Williams III, sources told NBC Sports he is not available), a Celtics offer with Jaylen Brown may be the best one the Nets will see.
Ric Bucher: I’ve been assured that this is correct in spite of another report that says it never happened. And that’s as far as I’ll go with that, too. I’m not going to punch down. Ben Simmons was in a group chat with some of the other teams players. And on it, they asked Ben if he was playing in game four. And not only did he not answer, he dropped out of the chat. Now, as I said, there’s another reporter out there who suggested the event never happened. I’m well aware that that reporter has, let’s say he has vested interests in painting things a certain way. And again, I will leave it at that his comments prompted me to go back and double check with my source. And that source insists that it did indeed happen, and explain why someone might report it another way. So I’m sticking with it.
Patrick Beverley is not one to whine about getting moved from one team to another. The Utah Jazz guard recently addressed claims from fans about how the Minnesota Timberwolves “did him wrong when in fact that sentiment goes completely against how he views and interprets his offseason fate. Here’s Patrick Beverley going full Jay-Z, referencing the GOAT’s “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” bar in explaining why he is thankful to the Timberwolves franchise.
Still, Caleb Canales’ decision to leave the NBA and coach in Mexico is not without risk. Broadening his experience on an international stage could help him get back to the league and to the job of his dreams, but his leap of faith could also be ignored. Despite a growing stable of foreign-born superstars and the NBA’s expansion to new markets overseas, the league has been slow to embrace coaches with international experience. European champions like David Blatt and Igor Kokoskov came and went last decade, as did successful foreign-born assistants like Etore Messina. “The coaching side, you always have to be ready to adapt and adjust,” Canales says.
While skepticism may remain in some NBA circles regarding the value of international coaching experience, there’s no doubt the league is putting effort in to diversify its coaching ranks overall. As of the 2022 offseason, half the league is led by Black head coaches. Nash and Kerr were born outside the U.S., and Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is Filipino-American. Canales credits the work of David Fogel, executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association, and Karen Marrero, its director of communications, for things improving over the last few seasons. “They’ve been so creative, and they’ve been so willing to help us, as coaches,” he stresses, highlighting the coaching profiles as well as a newly deployed coaches database the NBCA has set up to assist teams in finding and hiring talent outside the same small coaching pool.