After a confounding night surrounding the status of Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant at the Barclays Center — which included him getting pulled out of the lineup in the pregame and third quarter for contact-tracing protocols — Durant won’t travel to Philadelphia for Saturday’s game and could be lost for multiple games for the second time in a month, sources tell ESPN. Durant had come into contact with an associate on Friday who tested positive for the coronavirus Friday night, just hours after returning an inconclusive test shortly before the Nets’ 123-117 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Durant contracted the coronavirus in March and still had those antibodies in early January when he was lost for four games because of contact tracing. Four weeks later, Durant could be lost for a similar six-day stretch, sources said. After Friday's game, Nash said that he struggled, at times, to compartmentalize Durant's absence during the game.
Shams Charania: Statement from NBA on Kevin Durant situation: Kevin Durant has tested negative three times in the last 24 hours, including two negative PCR tests today. However, someone he interacted with this afternoon subsequently had an inconclusive test result return shortly before the game. Durant was initially held out of the game while that result was being reviewed. Under the league's health and safety protocols, we do not require a player to be quarantined until a close contact has a confirmed positive test. During the game, a positive result was returned for the person Durant interacted with this afternoon. Once that test was confirmed positive, out of an abundance of caution, Durant was removed from the game, and contact tracing is underway to determine if he was in fact a close contact of the positive individual.
Brian Floyd: Can everyone stop saying things like “out of an abundance of caution”?We’re just saying words that don’t match actions for PR over and over at this point. Kevin Durant: Yo @nba, your fans aren’t dumb!!!! You can’t fool em with your Wack ass PR tactics.. #FREE7
“I was frustrated, especially [since] we follow the protocols, we get tested every single day, so I don’t understand the whole thing where he couldn’t play and then he came on a court, and then they took him back. There’s just a lot going on. There’s too much going on. It’s kind of overwhelming,” said James Harden, who broached the question of whether the game should’ve been called altogether.
Shams Charania: Nets‘ Kevin Durant is out for the remainder of the Raptors game due to health and safety protocols.
Malika Andrews: Kevin Durant is out for the remainder of the game due to health and safety protocols. After missing the beginning of the game and subsequently being cleared to play, Durant is unable to play at the direction of the league, a source told ESPN.
Michael Scotto: Kevin Durant will not be available to start tonight’s game due to health and safety protocols, Nets say.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Kevin Durant is undergoing contact tracing, sources tell @Malika Andrews and me.
The Grizzlies will get back Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen on Saturday after both spent time in the league's health and safety protocols. Neither player was listed on the team's injury report Friday, which means both will be available for Saturday's game at the New Orleans Pelicans.
Dr. Leroy Sims, the NBA’s senior vice president of medical affairs, will meet via Zoom with every team between now and Feb. 19, according to a league memo obtained by The Athletic, for the express purpose of reflecting “on his experience as an emergency medicine physician during the COVID-19 pandemic and his COVID-19 vaccination — to promote greater understanding and awareness regarding league-wide and public vaccination initiatives.” With so many players in need of information and insight on this front, sources say teams asked league officials for assistance when it came to vaccine education.
In short, the NBA wants its basketball people — players, coaches, referees and chief front office personnel — to get the shots, potentially as part of a national volunteering-public relations campaign. But a large majority of the players are African-American, a community that has been known to be distrustful of vaccines, in large part, because of the shameful history of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and other examples of worse treatment and outcomes for Black men and women in encounters with the medical community than whites received.
Dane Moore: Karl-Anthony Towns will NOT play on Friday in Oklahoma City. KAT has been with the team, on the bench, for the past two games, but he continues to be listed as “OUT — health and safety protocols”
An executive who spoke to TrueHoop says he had a most unusual conversation with a high-powered agent. Like the Warriors, his team had been ravaged by injuries and needed fast help. The call began in standard fashion: The executive asked if such-and-such free-agent clients were in shape and ready to go. The agent replied yes, several of them were. Good. They went back and forth on some candidates, but both could sense that neither had asked the real question. Nobody had addressed the elephant in the room. Finally, the agent blurted it out: “Remember … he’s had COVID-19 already. He might be, um, more employable for you.”
An agent told TrueHoop that he heard from the Celtics, who were looking for, in the agent’s words, “a free agent center who had recently recovered from COVID-19.” An NBA general manager who spoke with TrueHoop put it this way: “[Getting COVID-19] is, unfortunately, like getting a FastPass at Disney World.”
The executive who told the story above found himself considering the logical extension of this dilemma: If you’re just outside the NBA and dreaming of a call-up, is there an argument to get infected? Some team officials make analogous comments: If COVID is going to rage through a team at some point this season, is it better now than in the middle of a playoff run? Another NBA source says, “I guarantee those conversations are happening in locker rooms.”
Marc Stein: "This is one shot I won't block." -- Celtics legend @RealBillRussell takes the COVID-19 vaccine in the NBA's latest PSA ... joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Gregg Popovich in the league's campaign: youtube.com/watch?v=CfOG24…
Shams Charania: Zero NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 482 tested since Jan. 27, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Iman Shumpert — signed Saturday but still awaiting clearance to join the team — has been idle for far longer. He hasn’t played an NBA game since Dec. 11, 2019, with the Nets. He’d been working out in Atlanta and has said he’d only need a week to get game-fit, but that could be ambitious. If he keeps posting negative COVID-19 tests he could be cleared to join the team by this weekend, according to a source.
Barry Jackson: Tyler Herro said his COVID scare was from his girlfriend's false positive. She subsequently tested negative twice, thus allowing him to play yesterday and moving forward. Herro has said he had COVID last year, before the Disney bubble.
Kevin O'Connor: Yeah, it certainly seems that way. It seems to be trending in that direction, where we're gonna see, you know, a group of games canceled, so teams don't have to deal with that hassle. And, you know, I've had conversations with a handful of executives in the past week where the conversation has started to shift at least among teams, not necessarily in the league office. But like, is there logic here to having a short term bubble until it's to the point where you can get vaccines for players and coaches and people who work on those teams and travel? Because what they're doing right now doesn't seem to be working that well.
Kevin O'Connor: [...] Some front office executives and coaches or from conversations I've had previously, were like 'a bubble shouldn't happen, won't happen,' have now said, 'Well, maybe it should happen for at least a period of time until you can get vaccinations and all that.' Ryan McDonough: Well, yes, I have heard that as well, Kevin. And that's one of the other options. It's very difficult logistically to pull off in a short period of time, because there's, you know, a shutdown on March 11.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Detroit Pistons are departing Denver for Salt Lake City, where they're expected to be able to play their scheduled game with the Jazz on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. Pistons stayed in Denver, retesting players after postponement vs. Nuggets tonight.
James Edwards III: Hearing the test in question was a false positive for the #Pistons. Team is headed to Utah and expected to play.
Omari Sanfoka II: Someone within the Pistons organization tested positive, I'm told. With four games left on their road trip, unclear what the rest of the trip will look like. Depends on contact tracing
Mike Singer: Source: The positive/inconclusive on the Pistons was NOT Mason Plumlee or Jerami Grant, who multiple Nuggets players interacted with.
Dane Moore: Ryan Saunders said both Karl-Anthony Towns and Juancho Hernangomez are "progressing" in their recoveries. Saunders also said "you want practice time" before a return. The Wolves play back-to-backs or every other day all month, so that practice time may be tough to come by.
Darren Wolfson: #Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to @Minn_Sports on KAT's playing status: “I would think it would be this week, yes.” KAT is out tonight, but is on the road trip.
Dane Moore: Juancho Hernangomez, who has been in health and safety protocols for weeks, is questionable to play tonight in Cleveland. Karl-Anthony Towns remains out in the health and safety protocols.
The Miami Heat is again facing uncertainty because of the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Heat guard Tyler Herro is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Sun) due to protocols. Herro was not with the team for practice Sunday.
Washington is tied for the worst winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, but it’s also only three games back of No. 7. It has about as many losses as all the teams in the bottom nine, since it skipped those six postponed games. Its modest goal remains sneaking into the play-in tournament. Talk to people inside the organization about the recent bout with COVID, and a supposed silver lining will often follow all the necessary complaints about the awfulness of that whole situation: At least it gave Westbrook time to rest, they’ll say, searching for some kind of optimism.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro revealed after a 105-104 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night that he learned a housemate has tested positive for COVID-19. Herro said he got that news at halftime and was uncertain if he will have to quarantine because of possible exposure. His revelation came on the same night All-Star forward Jimmy Butler returned after missing 10 games because of the NBA's health and safety protocols established for safe play during the coronavirus pandemic. Butler scored a season-high 30 points after missing 12 of Miami's 18 games because of virus-related issues, as the Heat ended a five-game losing streak.
The Heat also didn't play Kendrick Nunn on Saturday because he was awaiting a COVID-19 test result when the game started. Nunn was cleared by the second quarter and could have played, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra elected to not use him. "We were waiting for his test results," Spoelstra said, as quoted by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "At that point he wasn't available in the first quarter, so I went a different direction. ... It's just one of those unfortunate things. I guess if those type of things are going to happen, it'll happen to us."
The Grizzlies return Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast) but they won't be at full strength. Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen won't be available as both are in the NBA's health and safety protocols per the team's injury released Friday. Valanciunas has been sidelined since Jan. 17. Valanciunas, however, has rejoined the Grizzlies on this road trip. He posted a video on Twitter of him walking to the team plane as he said that he's recovered from COVID-19.
He could be available on Monday against the Spurs or Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers but the Grizzlies are likely showing the same caution they had with De'Anthony Melton when he entered the league's COVID-19 protocols last month..
Paul George said he was "super relieved" that he and Kawhi Leonard are healthy after having to enter the NBA's health and safety protocols. George and Leonard were cleared from protocol and returned to help the visiting LA Clippers cruise past the Orlando Magic 116-90 on Friday. "We were playing so well, it was unfortunate that we had to take a hiatus, but safety's first," George said. "We acknowledge that first and foremost."
Lasry said he didn't receive special treatment because of his position with the Bucks, his political aspirations or his father's wealth. "That has nothing to do with anything," Lasry told the newspaper. "Honestly, if I wasn't married to Lauren, I don't know that I would have gotten a call or known about it." Evers said he would rather see providers administer vaccine outside the priority phases than let it go to waste, saying the number of doses administered outside the protocols is going to be a tiny percentage of all inoculations.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on why he did the COVID-19 vaccine PSA: "We are in dire circumstances. It’s kind of amazing to me that there’s a swath of our population that still doesn’t believe that. But somebody a whole lot more incisive and smarter is going to have to figure that one out. If we can do our part in any way in making people feel comfortable that getting this shot is wise both for them and everybody else around them, I think we need to do it."
Alex Lasry, a 33-year-old Milwaukee Bucks executive and son of a billionaire, received the coronavirus vaccine this week at a senior living center in Milwaukee despite not being part of a group currently eligible for the shots in Wisconsin. Lasry told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he "just got lucky" and didn't receive any favoritism.
The New York City native, who is a hedge fund manager, is considering running for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 2022. He was also host committee chair for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which was awarded to Milwaukee but then moved online due to the pandemic. Lasry, son of Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, said his wife, Lauren, got a call Monday from her uncle, who is rabbi at Ovation Chai Point Senior Living, saying the senior living center had some extra, unused vaccine doses.
The Jump: "We didn't practice for 9 days. When we did practice, we had 8 guys. Beal has been leading us. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel" - Brooks #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #DCAboveAll pic.twitter.com/YuamTVy82v
Anthony Chiang: On 1:30 p.m. injury report, Jimmy Butler (protocols), Goran Dragic (left groin strain) and Tyler Herro (neck spasms) are questionable for tonight's game vs. Clippers. But now Duncan Robinson (quad contusion) is also questionable.
Tom Orsborn: In an NBA-produced PSA, Pop, who turned 72 today, said of getting the COVID-19 vaccine: "It will keep me safe, keep my family safe and keep other people safe....Science-wise, it’s a no-brainer. It’s the right thing to do so we can all get on track again. Let’s do this together."
Late Wednesday afternoon, days after what would have been the biggest game of the season [...] the Cleveland Cavaliers held a Zoom call with key state officials in hopes of boosting their attendance even more than the nearly 2,000 currently allowed.
During the second meeting in less than three months, the Cavs presented an enhanced plan and played a collection of supportive first-person video testimonials from initially-hesitant fans who have attended games inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this season, enjoyed the experience, felt safe and expressed interest in returning.
The Cavs asked for their original variance request, submitted on Nov. 4, to be honored -- an allowance of 4,596 people, which is 23.65% of the arena’s typical 19,432-person maximum. Their argument remains the same: They are the standard when it comes to arena innovation across the state and should be viewed as separate from other venues because of the massive million-dollar investment in upgrades, systems and technology, allowing them to implement unique protocols that have been successful in the first seven home games.
Gregg Popovich has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Spurs coach and USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich revealed today that he has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
In an effort to combat the piling up of games due to postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA on Wednesday said it will adjust the existing schedule to avoid having to fill in too many games during the second half of the season. To do so, the NBA will do two things: reschedule games that have already been postponed, where possible, between now and the league's scheduled midseason break in early March; and reschedule games to the second half of the season -- which has yet to be announced -- in order to squeeze in more games where possible in the first half.
Washington’s second-half schedule might not be as jam-packed as first thought, after the NBA said Wednesday it was rescheduling some Wizards games after a half-dozen of their contests were postponed in recent weeks for virus-related reasons. Portland will now visit Washington on Tuesday, a game that was originally set for the second half. Washington will play at Charlotte on Feb. 7, a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 20. And that means the Blazers, who were scheduled to visit the Hornets that day, will now go to Charlotte in the second half of the schedule.
Shams Charania: The NBA and NBPA have agreed to extend the revised tightened health and safety protocols for an additional two weeks (Feb. 10) at least, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
COVID-sniffing dogs are now a thing in America ... and the pups are getting their first whiff of action at an NBA game in Florida. The Miami Heat debuted the virus-sniffing dogs at Wednesday's game at AmericanAirlines Arena, with our four-legged friends screening fans before they could be allowed inside the building.
Attempts to grow closer as a team are confronting a world in which proximity to teammates is both dangerous and prohibited. As a result, NBA players and staffs have been reduced to distant conversations through face masks, and a road life dominated by individual screens rather than collective camaraderie. "The reality is that you can't do stuff like that anymore," Haslem said. "Those opportunities don't exist." In Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner's words: "It's a bubble within a bubble."
STARTING AN AVERAGE day on the road, an NBA player must now wake up as early as 7:30 a.m. to be tested before a practice or shootaround, depending on the market. He then returns to his room to catch another hour or so of sleep, or to busy himself with a video game, an episode of a series or maybe a FaceTime session with family back home. A couple of hours later, he reports downstairs to board the team bus. The wait in the lobby is traditionally a time when players schmooze and hang out, but with everyone at least 6 feet apart and masked, the vibe has taken on an edgy quality.
Pre-practice strategy sessions at the hotel can no longer last more than 10 minutes. Shootaround or practice offer some normalcy, but breakfast back at the hotel in a ballroom, typically a communal ritual where players and staff yuck it up at tables for eight, now operates as a grab-and-go. Want some fresh air? Forget about taking a walk outside, even though the CDC and other leading medical institutions regard outdoor activities with the appropriate precautions as low risk.
Back in the hotel room, the walls close in for players. More video games and binge watching. Myles Turner has delved into Narcos and has been playing Cyberpunk 2077, while Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph recently watched the Tony Parker documentary on Netflix. "I don't think locking up in a room for 24 hours just coming out to play basketball is mentally healthy," Haslem said. "I need to go out and take a walk because there are things that can pile up that have nothing to do with the game of basketball. And you're saying that I can't even go take a walk? I don't think that's right. Even in the bubble, you can go take a walk and get some fresh air."
This season, that ground rarely extends much past the door to a hotel room. The Spurs' custom on the plane has been effectively prohibited. Under the new guidelines, players must sit next to the same guys they sit next to on the bench during games. On an off night, it's dinners for one in the room -- a far cry from the jovial dining out experience in a road city. "I think that's hard -- having options taken away," Holiday said. "You might go to your favorite city, and have a favorite food spot that people might not know about. And that's something that you can bring to the table, something you share, and [this season] you can't really share that."
Ira Winderman: The Heat have installed some plastic partitions at AmericanAirlines Arena for closer fan seating starting Thursday. pic.twitter.com/kOk4dnXhLD
Tim Reynolds: Avery Bradley is available. Goran Dragic is out. Tyler Herro is TBD.
Shams Charania: One new NBA player tested positive for coronavirus out of 492 tested since Jan. 20, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium . Down from 11 positives last week and 16 the prior week.
A month into the season, and I can only draw one conclusion: The NBA blew it. The decision to play games in home markets has been a failure. Dozens of games have been postponed. Countless more have been impacted by player absences. A 72-game season for many teams is a pipe dream. The ticket revenue squeezed out of a handful of arenas has been overshadowed by daily disruptions. The unwillingness to eat the cost of a closed-campus environment has come at a greater price. “F--- this,” texted a veteran assistant coach last week. “I’m ready to go back [to the bubble].”
Across the NBA, a return to bubble life is picking up supporters. “It’s starting to get janky,” tweeted Aaron Gordon. “I’d be cool with a bubble if it was in the Bahamas or Hawaii and we got to bring our family/wife or girlfriend.” George Hill didn’t go that far, but when the NBA announced stricter protocols this month the Thunder guard declared, “If it's that serious, then maybe we shouldn't be playing.”
Mirjam Swanson: Ty Lue on Kawhi and PG's absence due to health and safety protocols: "It's so much uncertainty with the COVID situation, you never know, it's tough... It's a tough time, but thankfully those guys are feeling well and they can get better and come to join the team soon."
Andrew Greif: Per the most recent injury report for tonight's game, there are no additional players listed for the Clippers. Still Beverley, Leonard and George listed out.
Dr. Leroy Sims has been on hundreds of Zoom calls since the pandemic hit the United States. Many were of sobering variety. But on Sunday afternoon, the NBA senior vice president of medical affairs led a Zoom call that had special meaning to him as he talked to his grandmother, uncle and other family members and close friends who were mostly African American about why they should take the COVID-19 vaccine.
May 31, 2023 | 12:39 pm EDT Update
Bulls, Nikola Vucevic have opened up extension talks
In Chicago, I’m told that the Bulls have opened up extension conversations with their starting center Nikola Vucevic. Sources tell me there is mutual interest in getting a deal done. Both sides have until June 30 to get an extension done. If there is no agreement by that point, Vučević would enter free agency and be one of the top centers available on the market. Vučević had the third-most double-doubles in the NBA this year (51), averaging 17.6 points and 11.0 rebounds with a 52.0 field goal percentage at a usage rate of 21.4.
Lakers want to use D'Angelo Russell in sign-and-trade?
My read on the situation is that the Lakers would prefer to use D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade, but I’m not sure the market is there. Landing Kyrie Irving for Russell is shaping up to be a pipe dream, especially with Dallas unlikely to help Los Angeles out. Fred VanVleet, a Klutch client, looms as a possibility, but adding him would require Toronto to agree to terms with Russell (or take on the Beasley and Bamba contracts). Where, exactly, is the free-agency and trade market for Russell? I just don’t see it.
Pistons heavily pursuing Monty Williams to be next head coach
Nearly two months after Dwane Casey stepped down from his role as head coach, the Detroit Pistons are heavily pursuing Monty Williams, the NBA’s winningest coach since 2021, to be their next man in charge, league sources tell The Athletic. The Pistons are preparing to offer Williams in the range of $10 million per year, league sources said, which would put him among the league’s highest-paid coaches. Detroit has been hopeful over the past several weeks that Williams would consider accepting the job, sources added.
If Williams declines the proposal, Lee, a Bucks assistant since 2018, is expected to emerge as the likely choice, league sources said.
Since the start of the first round of the NBA playoffs, four coaches — Williams (Suns), Mike Budenholzer (Bucks), Doc Rivers (76ers) and Nick Nurse (Raptors) — have been fired. Williams, immediately, was on Detroit’s radar, per league sources. Milwaukee, too, heavily pursued Williams, per league sources.
Duncan Robinson grew up in New Hampshire and was a Celtics fan throughout his childhood so it was a little surprising to see the New England native pour salt in the wound of Boston fans in Game 7. In an appearance on JJ Redick’s podcast on Monday, Robinson revealed the entertaining reason that motivated him to do the taunt.
“I don’t know how this happened but maybe someone I went to high school with but my number got put in a group chat somewhere,” Robinson said. It was a massive group chat so after we lose Game 6, my phone is randomly blowing up from a bunch of random New England numbers. They are saying, ‘Get ‘F*****’, Celtics in 7, sending me memes of Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.’ It’s just all these random numbers, 70 texts. “So I’m like what is going on and I’m also pissed since I’m on the heels of this bone-crushing loss, not to mention I missed some shots down the stretch I’d like to have back. I’m like really worked up about it. So then I’m like thinking, creating all these scenarios in my head, if I get the chance in the Garden, I’m going to do something.”
Robinson got that chance in the fourth quarter as the Heat put the game out of reach following his layup, leading to a Boston timeout. “I wanted to do it,” Robinson admitted. “There was a little of internal conflict because you are playing on the floor that you grew up being fortunate to go to some games on and grew up in Celtics country. You have this idea you want to do it but I have to be relevant enough to warrant that and I toed the line on that.”