Brad Townsend: As Rick Carlisle said last night, Josh Richardson worked out in AAC and might return this week. From what I’ve heard, most likely order COVID-case returns is Richardson, Finney-Smith, Powell, Kleber, but as Carlisle repeatedly has emphasized, everything is fluid.
Brooklyn center DeAndre Jordan affectionately shooed Adebayo away as well with a pat on the head. The scene after the Nets’ 128-124 win Saturday night at Barclays Center was surreal, but encapsulates the COVID era we’re living in. “I just want to follow NBA protocols,” Irving said with a wan laugh, before adding as he left the Zoom call “I have the jersey, by the way.”
When asked if Irving ever got that pink-and-blue Heat jersey, Adabayo just shrugged his shoulders and threw his hands up in the air, looking over at a Heat staffer and eventually bursting out into laughter. “Oh yeah, he definitely wants it. I’m going to send one on my own time,” Adabayo said of Irving. “Just want to do that on my own time, and have a special 41 up there, you know?”
The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They've been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season in which the team has allowed a handful of guests -- mostly friends and family of players and staff. Starting this week, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first.
"If you think about it, detection dogs are not new," said Matthew Jafarian, the Heat's executive vice president for business strategy. "You've seen them in airports, they've been used in mission-critical situations by the police and the military. We've used them at the arena for years to detect explosives."
Alex Schiffer: Kyrie Irving asked about his attempt to get a jersey from Bam Adebayo at the end of the game and having it broken up by security: "I just want to follow NBA protocols."
The Miami Heat are planning to allow fans into AmericanAirlines Arena again starting on Jan. 28, and those fans can expect the usual gamut of COVID-19 precautions: mandatory masks, social distancing, increased cleaning, limited attendance. And dogs.
The Heat recently released guidelines for fans planning to attend a game, and it included an entire video, seen above, showing how a group of specially trained dogs will be on hand to sniff fans to see if they have COVID-19 as they enter the arena. Because apparently dogs can do that now. Specifically, fans will stand in a distanced line, at which point an employee will guide a dog past the line. If a dog signals it has detected the coronavirus by sitting down in front of a person, that person and their entire group will be denied entry to the arena.
Dane Moore: Ryan Saunders said that Ricky Rubio will play "shorter stints" tonight if he is able to play. Sounds kind of like a game-time decision. Rubio was typically playing between 22 and 28 minutes prior to the COVID exposure.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is nearing a return and is listed as questionable to play Friday night against the Phoenix Suns. Porter has been cleared from the NBA's health and safety protocols and returned to the team, a league source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Nuggets coach Michael Malone said that Porter has to clear a cardio exam to return to play from the protocols.
Clutch Points: REPORT: Japan's government has privately concluded that the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (via @thetimes) pic.twitter.com/X9mVY3yJd8
John Karalis: Jayson Tatum is officially out tomorrow vs. Philly
Now that they’re in, it’s going to be very hard to get some players to opt out. “I love the game of basketball, so if I have the chance to play it, I will,” Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant told me on a Zoom Monday. “I also feel like COVID is a big thing going on right now. We still have to be safe. I feel like the league’s doing a great job, from last season to even this season, trying to stop it, make sure we keep the games going and everybody staying safe and healthy. I feel like as long as everybody locks into it, hold each other accountable and also their self, I feel like the season will be fine to continue to go on.”
Dr. Prins, who reviewed the protocols for The New York Times, noted that in defining close contact, the N.B.A. included a quote from the C.D.C. that said that the transmission from an infected person is based on several factors, including whether they are “likely to generate respiratory aerosols.” “Well what do we think is happening on the court?” Dr. Prins said. “This is not two people sitting across from each other for 10 minutes and they haven’t even been talking or anything. These are people who are breathing hard and calling to each other on the court. I think it is very likely that they are generating a lot of aerosols. For me, I would want a very conservative definition of close contact here.”
David Aldridge: Scott Brooks says the Wizards’ staff member’s positive test disclosed this week was a false positive, and that the staffer has tested negative every day since.
Chase Hughes: Wizards announce SIX players are out for Friday's game vs. Bucks due to Covid protocol, plus two more for injuries: Deni Avdija, Davis Bertans, Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Ish Smith, Moe Wagner. Also, Thomas Bryant (ACL) and Russell Westbrook (quad).
Ava Wallace: The Wizards are back at practice. First time on court for the group since Jan. 11, and we’ll hear from Scott Brooks and Bradley Beal after.
Jared Weiss: Stevens says Jayson Tatum is out of the COVID protocol now but has to ramp up activity over a few days. Worked out back in Boston today. He may return on Friday, though Stevens isn’t saying anything on that yet.
Shams Charania: 11 new NBA players have tested positive for coronavirus out of 502 tested since Jan. 13, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
On “The Rich Eisen Show,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said he hopes the league doesn’t have to pause the season. “I think we’re at that point right now where there’s concern,” Rivers said, “that we’re gonna have to pause. I don’t want to have a pause. I don’t think a pause would be good for us, if you know what I mean. But, it also is very difficult.”
Devin Booker has Karl-Anthony Towns even nearer and dearer to his heart after learning his close friend has tested positive for COVID-19. "My prayers are with him and his family," Booker said after Tuesday's practice. "Times have been tough for him. Tough for a lot of people. We're taking it seriously."
Booker and Towns were teammates at Kentucky for the 2014-15 season and have remained close. So the Phoenix Suns All-Star guard immediately reached out to Towns about his health and well being. "His health is my priority," Booker said. "The health of his family is my priority."
After witnessing some opposing players disregarding new league rules against unnecessary contact on game nights, the NBA is moving team security into the midcourt area to dissuade violations that include hugging and handshakes, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN on Wednesday.
Despite those changes, there were still instances of traditional players' contact in postgame scenarios, which led the NBA to issue a memo on Wednesday reaffirming the rules that require teams to remain on their half of the court in pregame and halftime warmups, and limits to physical contact that include only elbow or fist bumps. High-fives, hugs and handshakes aren't allowed, nor are extended conversations post-game.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Portland-Memphis is postponed tonight because of contact tracing, sources tell ESPN.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday the league has discussed having players receive COVID-19 vaccines to educate and influence the public regarding their safety and effectiveness. "There have been discussions. It's something we're particularly focused on," Silver said at a virtual conference hosted by Sportico.
"In the African American community, there's been enormously disparate impact from COVID ... but now, somewhat perversely, there's been enormous resistance [to vaccinations] in the African American community for understandable historical reasons. ... If that resistance continues, it would be very much a double whammy to the Black community, because the only way out of this pandemic is to get vaccinated."
Andy Larsen: Quin Snyder: "We would encourage everybody to take the vaccine... we haven't had specific conversations [about that], we're just trying to follow the current protocols"
Casey Holdahl: CJ McCollum notes his aunt has COVID-19 during his first press conference since breaking his left foot. And it brings up something I've been struggling with, which is that's it's difficult to talk about sports injuries right now without feeling kind of... foolish I guess?
Paul Rosenberg: Stephen A reveals on First Take that NBA reporter Sekou Smith is suffering from covid & he is hearing that "he's not doing so well". Obviously first I have heard of it. Have had Sekou on a few times to chat NBA on WFAN. Hopefully he has a full recovery.
Ava Wallace: The Wizards have had a seventh player test positive, per sources, and one staff member. No staff had tested positive before now. Wizards brought eligible players in for individual work over the weekend but haven't gathered as a group since last Monday.
Harrison Wind: Michael Porter Jr. won't play tomorrow vs. OKC. The hope is that he's back in the lineup in Phoenix on Friday. "Bottom line is he's our starting small forward that's 6-foot-10, averaging close to 20 pts per game and seven rebounds. Of course we'd love to have that," Malone said.
Shams Charania: The Wizards-Hornets game on Wednesday has been postponed.
Maybe, if everything breaks right, sports leagues somehow muddle through this bleak winter, hanging on tight until players—and the rest of us—are finally all vaccinated. Until we reach the end of that tunnel. “Obviously we want sports, and we want activities that provide leisure and fun,” says Vespignani. “And I understand that for professional players—especially to play in an arena where there is no audience, to stay in a bubble aside from the family—it’s difficult. But these are difficulties we’re all facing in different ways. Children do not go to school. We work from home. So we all need to cope with that for a few more months and be very strict with the rules.
Kellan Olson: Monty Williams said that Robert Sarver has done an "unreal job" in making sure that everyone's families and people in close contact are getting testing. Said that's really helped him feel more safe and at ease.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Memphis C Jonas Valanciunas has entered the league's health and safety protocol, team says.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Sixers postponement is due to contact tracing connected with the game against the Grizzlies on Saturday night, sources tell ESPN.
Keith Pompey: The #Sixers have NO new positive COVID-19 test results to report at this time, according to a team source. However, they’re partaking in ongoing contract tracing due to a covid-related issue involving a recent opponent.
John Karalis: Contact tracing on the Sixers postpones tonight's game with OKC. Philly is Boston's next opponent so let's see how this impacts games later this week
Brad Townsend: Carlisle says he is optimistic that Brunson will be available tomorrow, but adds with agitation in his voice: "The guy basically tested negative for a week and a half and didn't have it. Go figure that one."
Tim Bontemps: Tonight’s Sixers-Thunder game has been postponed, the league announces. Too many Sixers are in contact tracing protocols for the game to be played.
Jon Krawczynski: So far, Wolves seem clear to play. Okogie: Robby Sikka and front office have "done a good job of making testing not only available to us but for our families to make sure that whoever is around us has the same resources we have. So they’ve been great."
Dane Moore: There have been no additional contract tracing or positive tests since Friday for the Timberwolves. “We’re good as now,” said Ryan Saunders.
Fred Katz: I’m told the Wizards were able to start bringing select players into the practice facility for one-on-zero workouts yesterday. Players eligible to work out are, of course, ones are testing negative for COVID and also have been cleared re: contact tracing.
Tim Bontemps: In addition to the Celtics players still in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols, two assistant coaches — Jay Larranaga and Jerome Allen — also are in them, according to a source. Neither are on the bench for Boston’s game tonight against Orlando.
Brad Townsend: Van Gundy says he heard NBA is going to go to twice-a-day testing. Had not heard that before.
Mirjam Swanson: Clippers announce the Forum is to become a COVID-19 vaccination site. Also been used as a voting center and COVID test site, recently.
Eric Woodyard: Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas called it “difficult” and “unfortunate” with the game being postponed. He also called it a “reality” with the current state of the world. “We don’t pick those situations, they pick us,” Rosas said.
Christopher Hine: Rosas: "We feel like it's a protected, isolated situation with those exposures ... but this is significant to our family, that positive ... and our organization wasn't prepared to move forward tonight."
Fred Katz: Tommy Sheppard said four of the six Wizards players with COVID are asymptomatic. The other two are feeling symptoms. One was feeling symptoms two days ago and has felt great the last two days, he says.
November 29, 2021 | 6:28 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic will return to lineup tonight for Nuggets vs. Heat after missing four games due to wrist sprain.
Adam Spolane: Stephen Silas says he and Rafael Stone met with John Wall yesterday and Wall has indicated he wants to play. Wall has started the process of getting into game shape. Silas says his ramp up will take at least a couple of weeks. He’s been doing individual workouts
Salman Ali: Stephen Silas on if he wants John Wall to return: “If he’s able to play, yeah. It has to be good for everybody though. It has to be good for the organization and it has to be good for our group. There’s more to it.”
November 29, 2021 | 6:18 pm EST Update
Harrison Faigen: Frank Vogel says Trevor Ariza is “getting closer” but he’s “still a ways away” and the team is not putting a timetable on it.
Harrison Wind: Michael Malone on the Jokic Brothers coming to Miami: “Miami is a great city to watch your brother play. They’re not coming down here to start something. They’re coming down here because this is Miami. I know every year they’ve been able to come, non-COVID, they’ve been here.”