NBA rumors: Kyrie Irving fined $50,000 for violating coronavirus protocols, eligible to return to Nets Saturday

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The Washington Wizards are dealing with an outbreak situation, with the franchise now up to five players who have tested positive for COVID-19, sources tell The Athletic's Shams Charania and Fred Katz. The Wizards last played on Monday against the Phoenix Suns. They have already had two games postponed this week — Wednesday against the Jazz and Friday against the Pistons. Washington's next scheduled game is Sunday against the Cavaliers.
Fred Katz, Wizards writer: The Wizards had plenty of close calls with COVID-19 before eventually having to miss games. They played the Celtics last week, the day before Boston flashed a positive test. Before that, they went up against the 76ers the day before they had one. Kevin Durant went into quarantine the day after his Nets played the Wizards. Bulls players tested positive in the middle of a series in Washington. Now, the Wizards are the ones dealing with the real-life issues that come with playing this season in the middle of a pandemic.
Katz: Most importantly, the Wizards have to get healthy. Players who test positive for coronavirus must quarantine for a minimum of 10-to-14 days, per league rules. If they have symptoms, quarantines can be longer than that. They then have a two-day ramp-up period and have to pass a cardio test before returning for good. It could be a while before some of these guys return. The status of the upcoming series against Cleveland, scheduled for Sunday/Monday, is up in the air, given today's news. Either way, it will be a minute before we see the Wizards in their full form.
Cody Taylor: Steve Clifford said the Magic are very confident the game tomorrow night vs. the Celtics will be played: "Our plan is that we'll be playing."
Damian Lillard: So, that’s what the challenge is, and just let them know, we need to create a bubble within our team, within our organization. The people in our facility and a bubble in our household, that way we’re protecting each other to the best of our abilities. But I wouldn’t say go back to a bubble because there’s so much more season to be played, people have families, and at least we’re forming a bubble in our homes, in our own beds and get to do it that way.
Chris Mannix: I've been hearing from people within the league office that you're not gonna see anything radical happen when it comes to how they're going to deal with this growing number of infections and people being exposed to infections, but they will nibble around the fringes a little bit and adding bodies might be one way to do it.
Sarah K. Spencer: Kevin Huerter says the Hawks have a few people who are self-isolating. "Hopefully we can nip it real quick... We had no contact with Phoenix. But with our team situation, obviously we think we have the right people in isolation and hopefully it doesn't spread too far from that."

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Sarah K. Spencer: Lloyd Pierce says he is self-isolating in a hotel room right now, due to contact-tracing. He didn't give a time period of how long he has to isolate, just says it's until the league tells him. Says he has tested negative.
What if players volunteered at the many public distributions centers that are being arranged throughout the country and received the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the masses to do the same along the way? A source with knowledge of the call with team presidents said UCLA was the possible site mentioned, but that sort of approach could gain traction. According to a Pew poll of 12,648 people conducted from Nov. 18-29, just 42 percent of Black people intended to get the vaccine when it became available. It has been chronicled and analyzed that many in the Black community are known to be distrustful of vaccines, in large part because of the shameful history of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.
The potential thinking here isn’t hard to understand: The sight of the world’s most famous basketball players — the large majority of whom are Black — getting the vaccine while sharing productive vaccine messaging could go a long way toward aiding that cause. With President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, a source said league officials have been in touch with the incoming administration’s transition team about how the NBA might be able to help.
Malone’s Nuggets were inside the bubble until the Western Conference finals were over. He argued publicly for coaches to be able to welcome families — a luxury the players enjoyed far, far earlier than coaches. There is no bubble now because the isolation was too much for everybody involved. League officials resist even the idea of a shutdown or pause right now. They want to plow ahead and get this season over, so the next one (with fans allowed in) can start on time. But to hear Malone warm to the idea of a bubble is an indicator of just how difficult it is navigating a season outside of one in this pandemic.
Thunder guard George Hill pushed back against the stricter COVID-19 safety protocols the NBA announced Tuesday, wondering why the season would continue if such measures were necessary. “I’m a grown man, so I’m gonna do what I wanna do,” Hill said after the Thunder’s 112-102 loss to the Spurs. “If I wanna go see my family, I’m gonna go see my family. They can’t tell me I have to stay in the room 24/7. If it’s that serious then maybe we shouldn’t be playing. It’s life. No one’s gonna be able to just cancel their whole life for this game.”
Farbod Esnaashari: Everyone is paying attention to George Hill's quote, but should pay attention to Shai: "If it means I have to wear a mask on the bench the whole time, it is what it is and I'm gonna do it. I want to get back to normal living, and whatever it takes to get back, I'm going to do it
Harrison Faigen: Kyle Kuzma isn't overly enthused by the idea of going back to the bubble, but made it seem like he'd be willing if necessary. "Obviously that would be a last resort type of deal... But this team, this organization, if a championship is on the line, that's what we're going to do"

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Mike Trudell: Marc Gasol said he understands and respects the tighter policies as the NBA tries to minimize risk during the ongoing pandemic: “It’s for the best of everyone. We understand that."
Kendra Andrews: Malone says it's not surprising the league updated its covid protocols. He says he wants hopes for greater commitment to those rules moving forward. "Hopefully these new protocols will allow us to see less players and teams affected by covid."
Shams Charania: For at least next 2 weeks, NBA players and team staff are essentially entering in-market bubbles: - Home: Remain in residence at all times (except for exercise outside, essential activities, extraordinary circumstance) - Road: Stay in hotel (unless team activity or emergency)
Adrian Wojnarowski: Among protocol changes now agreed upon: NBA players can no longer interact with non-team guests at road hotels, sources tell ESPN. Players were allowed to have guests in rooms, but that is no longer the case.
Adrian Wojnarowski: More changes to protocol, sources tell ESPN: At home, players and team staff must remain at residence except to attend team-related activities at facility orarena, exercise outside, perform essential activities or the occurrence of extraordinary circumstances.
Adrian Wojnarowski: For minimum of next two weeks, pre-game meetings in locker rooms are limited to 10 minutes -- with masks on, sources tell ESPN. All other meetings with players and team staff must be on the court, or a larger space that allows for 6-feet of social distancing.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: League's mandating increased mask wearing for players in games, except for "cool down chairs" arranged at least 12 feet from bench and 6 feet apart. Players can go there immediately after leaving court during game, but must return to regular seat on bench wearing a mask.
Tim Reynolds: The hope is that the new rules about limiting where players go (at home and on the road) are going to only be in place for two weeks, though a source cautions, "that's probably the minimum."
TJ McBride: So it sounds like the GM meeting yesterday was largely just to reinforce protocols while discussing these few extra additions to the protocols. Frankly, it’s not enough and I hope that teams start to step in with more authority to make it clear this season is getting out of hand.
Tom Orsborn: Jakob Poeltl on the vaccine: "My initial instinct is I want to take it. I am assuming if they are available to us, they have done enough research on it and it’s safe. It’s not only for my benefit but for the benefit of everybody else as well."
Tom Orsborn: Jakob Poeltl on talk of NBA announcing even tighter COVID guidelines: "They have got the experts working. I am hoping they are being reasonable and that they are making good decisions. I think all we can really do is trust in them."
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September 18, 2021 | 5:41 pm EDT Update
You’re here for at least the next five years now that you’ve signed an extension. Do you allow yourself to think – or dream – about what might come over that time span since you’ve talked openly about wanting to win a title in New York? Have you allowed yourself to think about how things might progress? Julius Randle: Obviously, it’s a process. Everything is a process. We’ve been building this from the ground up. But for me, personally, that is the expectation (winning a title in New York). That’s what I want to happen within that time frame. There’s a lot of things, factors that go into that. So obviously you’ve got to weigh that stuff in.
Julius Randle: But as far as myself, I know Thibs (Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau) is thinking (it as well), it’s just win at all costs. For me personally, that’s just how I prepare myself. I prepare myself to compete at the highest level of our game. Like I said, there’s a lot of factors (that go into winning an NBA title). But I trust Leon (Knicks president Leon Rose), I trust Thibs, Wes (Knicks vice president William Wesley), our coaches, Scott (Knicks GM Scott Perry) – all these guys, I trust. That was part of my process in thinking of signing the extension and that’s my goal, that’s our goal as a team and the guys that are around us. We want to be able to say that we won a championship here in New York. I don’t think there’s any better feeling than that.
Did you guys see the video clip of Trae Young at the Garden with WWE? Do you care about that stuff? Julius Randle: Yeah I see it. But honestly, I don’t care. Obviously, that’s (for) entertainment purposes and all that (stuff), so I let people enjoy it. For me, honestly, I don’t care. I honestly didn’t even watch it. Knicks fans, they’re going to make a big deal out of it – they didn’t like it (laughs). But it’s all fun and games and hopefully they enjoyed it.
September 18, 2021 | 12:10 pm EDT Update

Rockets re-sign Dante Exum, waive Tyler Bey

The Rockets have officially re-signed guard Dante Exum and waived Tyler Bey to create a roster space for him, according to the NBA’s transactions log. Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw was the first to report the Bey transaction (Twitter link). With John Wall not expected to play for the team this season as it seeks to trade him, the Rockets were in the market for another point guard. The Rockets’ interest in Exum surfaced on Tuesday.
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Timberwolves sign Leandro Bolmaro

When the Timberwolves traded up to get Leandro Bolmaro last November in the 2020 NBA Draft (yes, it was less than a year ago… it still feels weird), the question was would it be a year or two before Bolmaro came over from Barcelona to play in the NBA. The answer is one. Minnesota reached a deal and Bolmaro will be with the Timberwolves in training camp, the team announced Saturday. This is not a surprise; he was expected to come over this season. He will be playing on a rookie scale contract.
September 18, 2021 | 8:54 am EDT Update
There are reports that Anthony Davis will play center for the Los Angeles Lakers this coming season with LeBron James taking the power forward position. In the past AD said that he does not love playing the five but can do it if needed. Lakers legend James Worthy thinks that the best option is to use the former number one pick in the post. “I think initiating Anthony Davis in the post is the best option,” Worthy said on Spectrum SportsNet. “I’ve never been one of those players to say ‘I don’t wanna play three, I wanna play four. I wanna play.’ I don’t know what the problem is, maybe who he defends or where he is on the floor. I think the five is a good spot for him. Because other fives don’t have a shot at guarding him.