NBA rumors: League, players finalizing agreement on COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-22 season

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Tim Reynolds: The NBA has given teams a draft of the health and safety protocols for this season. As reported, unvaccinated players will be tested (almost) daily, vaccinated players will not be. Unvaxxed players will also be limited in how much they can be around vaxxed players in team areas.
Chris Grenham: Jayson Tatum says he feels like he's pretty much gotten his wind back following covid. Said he hasn't used his inhaler since last season, which is a good sign.
Adam Zagoria: Kyrie Irving is expected at Nets’ media day Monday, per league sources. We’ll see how it plays out as he’s likely to face a lot of vaccination-related questions in the wake of the @RollingStone story.
Sean Cunningham: Andrew Wiggins request for religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination denied by the NBA. League statement below. pic.twitter.com/kXFGXiS8hy

http://twitter.com/SeanCunningham/status/1441550135540867078
Next, the team tried dangling the NBA’s updated and more relaxed COVID protocols, which made life easier for vaccinated players. They faced fewer tests, had fewer restrictions and, crucially, were not required to quarantine after an exposure to the virus. The unvaccinated players still didn’t budge. Finally, the team tried appealing to the players’ self-interests. There was money to be made in the postseason, it told the players, whether via playoff bonuses, contract incentives, or by flourishing under the spotlight and burnishing their respective reputations.
That pitch didn’t work, either. The team finished the season with less than 70% of its players vaccinated. "We tried everything," a staff member from that team told FOX Sports. "None of it mattered."
Now, with the 2021-22 regular season just a month away and players returning to their local markets for training camp next week, a number of NBA organizations find themselves confronting similar challenges, only with more urgency. The combination of new league protocols and more stringent local regulations could create an environment in which vaccine hesitancy becomes an issue that impacts on-court results. In other words, the final standings this season could very well be impacted by the vaccination status of players.
The NBA, according to a league spokesman, believes that around 85% of its players are currently vaccinated; National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts put the number at 90% during a July interview with Yahoo Sports. Those numbers are about 10-to-15% more than the overall rate of American adults who are vaccinated. But that still means that somewhere between 50 and 70 NBA players remain unvaccinated, an average of more than two per squad. Depending on how those players are grouped, what city they play in, and how good they are, it’s clear that any team entering the season with low vaccination rates will be at a competitive disadvantage.
So, while it's a pertinent question for any professional sports team these days, the Wizards' vaccination rate arguably carries more importance as they prepare to enter a new season. Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard addressed the media on Thursday ahead of the team's training camp opening next week and was asked a series of questions about the team's vaccination efforts. He stopped short of specifics to protect players' privacy. "Everything is great. We have our roster, everybody is fully-educated and fully-informed. We will be in compliance and we're looking forward to the season," Sheppard said. "A lot of that stuff, you're getting into some personal and private information. We're not going to go down that road. But we'll be in great compliance with the NBA and moving forward."
Fans planning to head to TD Garden to watch the Bruins or Celtics this season — as well attend concerts — will need to pack a copy of their coronavirus vaccination proof or get a negative COVID-19 test.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has informed teams of set coronavirus testing protocols for players for the 2021-22 season: Fully-vaccinated: No regular testing Non-fully-vaccinated: One negative test on Practice/Travel day; One negative test on Game Day.
Months after drawing an estimated 100,000 people to downtown's Deer District, the Milwaukee Bucks might revise the basketball team's development plans for sites near Fiserv Forum. That reevaluation is partly motivated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on how people live, work and play, said Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks president.
The phenomena of tens of thousands of Bucks fans during the July NBA title run filling the Deer District plaza, and overflow sites destined for future development, is playing a role in the reevaluation, he said. Among the guiding principles, Feigin said, is how the Bucks "can create a safe, fun meeting place for the state of Wisconsin." Almost 500 COVID-19 cases were later linked to fans who attended Deer District watch parties or a game during the NBA title run.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA will return to normal team bench seating for the 2021-22 season, with teams no longer requiring cool down/timeout chairs or assigned seats. Game day personnel are currently expected to be required to wear facemasks at start of season.

https://twitter.com/AdamZagoria/status/1431664369121775616
The NBA informed teams Friday that all personnel under team control who work within 15 feet of players or referees during games will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming season, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. The directive specifically includes coaches, front-office members and trainers but stops short of requiring all players to be vaccinated.
Scott Agness: Pacers’ first summer league game, against the Wizards, has been postponed due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Wizards do not have enough players available due to contract tracing.
The Washington Wizards added the following players to their Summer League roster today: Cheick Diallo, Asante Gist and Derrick Walton Jr. In addition, guards Cassius Winston and Issuf Sanon and forward Isaiah Todd have entered the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols.
Jeremy Lin has tested positive for Covid-19 and is receiving treatment in Shanghai, the former NBA guard and first Asian-American to win an NBA title said in a social media post Saturday. Lin announced in June he was rejoining the Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks after a failed NBA comeback. He tested positive for coronavirus on his third day in quarantine after flying to Shanghai from San Francisco, the 32-year-old posted on Chinese social network Weibo. "I was shocked and a little bewildered," he wrote of his initial reaction to the diagnosis.
Nearly 500 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in people who congregated in Milwaukee's Deer District to cheer on the Milwaukee Bucks during the NBA playoffs last month. At least 491 cases have arisen from people who "self-declared" they attended a Deer District gathering at some point during the month of July, according to Milwaukee Health Department spokesperson Emily Tau.
The state Department of Health Services reported that 491 people with confirmed or probable cases said they had attended the Deer District or Bucks game "during their exposure or infectious periods" but the department could not say definitively that they caught the virus while viewing the game downtown or elsewhere. The department also said the figure was likely an undercount. "We anticipated an increase in positive cases due to the delta variant but 155% increase in one week is distressing,"Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said.
Rockets coach Stephen Silas was unable to attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team's draft picks because he is in NBA health and safety protocols. Silas said he has “very minor symptoms” and that he is fully vaccinated for COVID. NBA protocols require coaches, players and staff to isolate if they have been in contact with individuals that tested positive.
According to one prospect who recently spoke to For The Win, due to COVID-19 restrictions, those not invited to the green room are not allowed to come to the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner as they have been in years past. Regardless of who is actually in the building, however, it is certain to be an exciting and life-changing night for the next generation of NBA talent. Based on conversations I’ve had with scouts around the league, and from reports and tea leaves left in other mock drafts from trusted draftniks, below is how I project the events will unfold at Barclays Center and on ESPN and ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET on July 29.
It was just good, Silver said, to be back in the same place together. "There aren't that many places, even pre-pandemic, where people gather in the way they do in arenas, come together for a common purpose ... and literally breathe each other's air," he said. "I think that's part of the human connection. I really do miss that."
FOR SOME, LIKE Dallas Mavericks guard Josh Richardson, the past 16 months are probably best forgotten. "I mean, I got COVID twice," Richardson says. "I'm hoping that this is just a memory that we look back on a few years and like, 'Oh yeah, that was crazy.'" But then he caught himself.
Richardson says he didn't have any symptoms the first time and quarantined at his house -- with his dog, Champ -- for 25 days. "That was before we knew anything about it," he says. "We didn't even test every day, so it could've been a false positive. But I was scared. I didn't want to give it to anyone else." He also didn't want to talk about it publicly. "At the beginning, people would look at you funny," he says. "Like you had the plague."
EVERY COACH IN the league had to find a way to talk to players about everything they'd be signing up for this season. From daily testing -- which was more like three times a day during the height of the surge in January -- to the lack of personal freedom on the road to restrictions on how many family members and friends they could see. "We actually talked to the team about [the safety protocols] many times during the season," Kerr says. "'Yeah, this sucks, but you really have to put it in perspective and remember how fortunate we are to be working."
There were no fans in arenas for the first few months. Some teams covered the empty seats; others put up cardboard cutouts. Everyone played music and piped in fake crowd noise to try to distract from the silence. But that was almost worse, Kerr says. "It was almost like laugh tracks in a sitcom," he says. "You could tell it was a little fake, and the timing would be just off. Somebody makes a great play and the reaction is a split-second late."
John Karalis: USA basketball announces Bradley Beal will miss the Olympics due to the health and safety protocols. Jerami Grant is now also in the protocol "out of an abundance of caution"
Shams Charania: Team USA's Jerami Grant has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, sources tell me and @joevardon . Grant has not tested positive for coronavirus. He and Bradley Beal are in protocols in Las Vegas.
Beal will be tested multiple times in the coming days, according to the person who spoke Wednesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the player involved for USA Basketball was not revealed publicly. The results of those tests will likely determine if he remains on the roster, the person said. USA Basketball could still replace Beal before heading to Tokyo.
Shams Charania: Wizards star Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, placing his return to play status up in the air, sources tell me and @Joe Vardon.
The Milwaukee Health Department will have COVID-19 vaccines available at Fiserv Forum Plaza on Wednesday, July 14 ahead of Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Fans who receive their vaccination will be entered to win two tickets to that night’s game, donated by the Milwaukee Bucks.
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October 19, 2021 | 3:54 pm EDT Update