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
Tommy Beer: Knicks announce Kevin Knox II has been cleared from health and safety protocols and rejoined the team
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
NBA Central: LeBron James' last IG post 🤔 pic.twitter.com/JDn9HgJpMX
Shams Charania: The Portland Trail Blazers have two players entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols – Dennis Smith Jr. and Trendon Watford – and remainder of the team will now be re-tested, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
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.
Zach Lowe: Giannis Antetokounmpo has been cleared from health and safety protocols; he's expected to get on the court today and decide tomorrow whether to play on Christmas against the Boston Celtics, sources tell @Adrian Wojnarowski and me.
Chris Haynes: Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young (H&S protocols) is not expected to be cleared in time for the Christmas Day game against the New York Knicks, league sources tell @YahooSports.
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.
Kyle Goon: David Fizdale confirms that Dwight Howard is going to play tonight, helping the team’s depth with Trevor Ariza in protocols.
Christopher Hine: Chris Finch said Karl-Anthony Towns is currently asymptomatic, which is good news considering Towns said he had a tough battle with COVID last season.
Dane Moore: No excuses from Chris Finch when talking about being down seven bodies tonight, including KAT: "I've been in the G-League. This is no different than the G-League. You lose your best players in warmups sometimes -- you just throw new guys in, and the guy goes out and plays."
Bill Oram: No real surprise here, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel remains in health and safety protocols, meaning David Fizdale is in line to serve as acting head coach for a third straight game.
Omari Sanfoka II: League source confirms Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder are all in COVID protocols.
James Edwards III: Rex Kalamian said he's been on the phone all day with Dwane Casey to prepare for Miami, and then an hour ago, things chanced with less players being inolved. "On the bus, I told the guys, 'let's go. we have a game.'"
Shams Charania: Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has entered COVID-19 protocols.
Stefan Bondy: Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes are available tonight but RJ Barrett needs more conditioning, per Thibodeau
Chris Kirschner: Kevin Huerter is still out for tonight’s game. Sharife Cooper is now in health and safety protocols and is out for tonight’s game.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Detroit Pistons have a Covid outbreak that includes Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Saben Lee entering the league's protocols. The Pistons are preparing to play at Miami tonight.
Justin Grasso: Doc Rivers says that everybody in the health and safety protocol is feeling fine. Shake Milton was the only one with symptoms he believes #Sixers
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.
Shams Charania: Wizards‘ Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols and is listed out tonight vs. Knicks.
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: Lakers‘ Trevor Ariza has entered health and safety protocols, team says.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski: RJ Barrett is out of Covid protocols, the Knicks say.
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."
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue said Reggie Jackson said he doesn’t have any symptoms and is feeling fine. Luke Kennard (hip), who is also out, has been dealing with a hip issue and felt sore this morning. So the Clippers see this as a good opportunity to get him rest between games.
Rylan Stiles: Mark Daigneault says they are aware they have been able to avoid COVID protocols but "no one is above the virus adds "there is a randomness" but the team is staying "humble" and as "vigilant" as possible.
Sarah K. Spencer: Kevin Huerter is now also out in health and safety protocols. That's six Hawks out in protocols now.
Anthony Slater: Damion Lee has entered health and safety protocols. Third Warriors player, joining Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. Lee started in Poole’s place last game and scored 18. All three out vs Memphis tomorrow. So is Andre Iguodala. Knee swelling.
Rod Beard: #Pistons Cade Cunningham is the only DET player listed in health and safety protocols. Frank Jackson (right ankle inflammation) is listed as questionable, and Killian Hayes, who missed Tuesday's game because of a non-COVID illness, is NOT listed.
Tim Bontemps: Ime Udoka says Robert Williams will be back tonight but that the seven players in health and safety protocols remain in the same holding pattern, waiting for either enough days to go by or two negative tests more than 24 hours apart.
Shams Charania: Detroit Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham has entered health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: 76ers guard Danny Green has entered COVID-19 protocols and is listed out vs. Hawks on Thursday. Fourth Philadelphia player in health and safety.
Kyle Goon: David Fizdale says Frank Vogel “is doing better, he’s doing great.” Says trying to work with Vogel coaching remotely is different for him (he was not coaching when the pandemic began) but he’s adjusting and making it work.
Ira Winderman: Heat injury report for Thursday vs. Pistons is out, with the following all listed as out: Jimmy Butler (tailbone) Bam Adebayo (thumb) Markieff Morris (neck) Victor Oladipo (knee) Caleb Martin (protocols) P.J. Tucker (leg) No other players currently on injury report.
Sarah K. Spencer: Lou Williams and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have been added to health and safety protocols for the Hawks. Five players in protocols, including Trae Young, Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Knicks center Nerlens Noel has entered the league's Covid protocols, source tells ESPN.
August 13, 2022 | 7:37 pm EDT Update
The Warriors can pass on an extension for Poole if they choose, allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer. If he gets there, one league executive speculates that we can expect at least one team with cap space to be ready to pounce. “I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports.
“LeBron James has not done enough as a Laker to be on that list,” Jefferson said. “Bron been there now — this is his fourth season, right? They’ve been in there four seasons. Two years, they haven’t made the postseason. One year, they lost in the first round. And one year, they won a championship.”
Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week, league sources tell me. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.Substack.com
August 13, 2022 | 5:50 pm EDT Update
“It was just like a shock, but not too much of a shock,” Will Barton said when asked his reaction to the trade. “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”
Will Barton doesn’t think about what could’ve been in Denver anymore. Now about six weeks removed from his trade to Washington, Barton doesn’t dwell on departing a contending team or leaving a starting unit featuring the back-to-back MVP. “That time and that chapter is over with,” Barton told The Denver Post over Zoom. “I don’t think about what could’ve been, what happened. I’ll wait until my career ...
Serbia defeated Montenegro 82-73 in a game played without spectators. It was the first test for the Serbs with Nikola Jokic scoring 16 points, Vasilije Micic adding 13 and Nikola Milutinov 12 points. Nemanja Bjelica played but did not score. Marco Simonovic and Bojan Dubljevic scored 17 points for the losing side.
Because Jaylen Brown is now two years into his original four-year extension, he’s eligible this summer to sign an extension that is three years years in length. During the 2023 offseason, Brown would be able to add four years via Veteran Extension. Because he’s not currently on a Designated Rookie Extension, Brown isn’t eligible to extend for the maximum amount possible. (At least not yet. We’ll cover that next!). That means Brown is eligible to do a standard Veteran Extension. And therein lies the rub.