NBA rumors: Leandro Barbosa tested positive for COVID-19

While playing for Minas Tênis Clube in Brazil as the league’s top scorer at 20.1 points per game, Leandro Barbosa learned on March 21 that he had tested positive for Covid-19 two days earlier in Belo Horizonte. Talita Rocca, his wife, was 38 weeks pregnant and due to give birth on March 26 in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo, where the couple live full time.

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Amid soon-to-be-confirmed fears that Rocca, a model, had also contracted the virus, her doctors decided, for the baby’s safety, that labor would be induced immediately — with Barbosa barred from the hospital. Rocca’s mother, Geli, took Barbosa’s place in the delivery room. He watched as much of the March 22 birth of Isabela Rocca Barbosa as possible on FaceTime.
Bill Kennedy was part of the referee crew that worked the Detroit-Philadelphia game, which as of right now is the last NBA game played this 2019-20 season. League commissioner Adam Silver suspended play that same night March 11 after Utah Jazz all-star Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. “At that time, we went back to the hotel at the airport Marriott and we saw the press release that Adam released,” said Kennedy, a Phoenix native and 22-year NBA referee veteran. “We got an email from (NBA head of referee development and training) Monty McCutchen to get home as quickly as we could.”
After the Atlanta Hawks were unwilling to immediately reopen the franchise's practice facility for players to return for limited workouts, the NBA sent a memo to teams pushing back its reopening date to May 8. The league had been planning to reopen facilities beginning with the Hawks, because of the state of Georgia had been among the first states loosen stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are going to wait and see what happens in the state over the couple weeks," Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk told ESPN. "If there's a positive response, we'll slowly open up. If it's a negative response, we'll make sure our staff and players remain healthy."
Shams Charania: The NBA has informed its franchises that it is targeting no earlier than May 8 for any use of team's practice facility, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The NBA will continue to monitor coronavirus pandemic with its timings.
Shams Charania: NBA has informed its teams of this reality in a memo, per sources: “It is not possible or appropriate in the current public health context to regularly test all players and staff for COVID-19.” These protocols may be modified.
Jonathan Feigen: NBA announces it plans to modify rules to reopen team practice facilities no sooner than May 8 in states and cities where permissible. Gov. Abbott to announce plans at 2:30 for a partial reopening in Texas, which could apply to Rockets, Mavs and Spurs use of training facilities.
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA has received significant pushback from teams about idea of re-opening practice facilities in selected states and municipalities, team officials tell ESPN. Competive balance hasn't been issue -- player/staff safety has. Teams are still awaiting a more detailed NBA plan today.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Despite pushback among many franchises, there are still other teams embracing idea of re-opening facilities, believing that a clean, safe and monitored team environment is needed now to keep players from potentially searching out less safe gymnasium environments to stay in shape.
Shams Charania: Sources: When NBA’s facilities open as soon as May 8, players must wear facemasks at all times, except when in physical activity; staffers working with players must wear gloves; physical distancing of at least 12 feet.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Hawks President of Basketball Operations/GM Travis Schlenk tells ESPN that Hawks won’t be opening team facility to players Friday. “We are going to wait and see what happens in the state over the couple of weeks,” Schlenk tells ESPN. Georgia relaxed stay-at-home policies.
The Los Angeles Lakers have returned approximately $4.6 million that they received from a federal government program intended to help small businesses weather the economic burden caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the team said in a statement to ESPN on Monday. The Lakers, one of the NBA's most profitable franchises, applied for relief through the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, and were among the companies and nonprofits granted loans during the first round of distributions. But after reports that several large or highly capitalized entities were securing aid from the program's initial $349 billion pool -- while hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses were shut out -- the Lakers said they returned the money. "The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program," the Lakers said in a statement to ESPN. "Once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need. The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community."
The Nets’ facility in Brooklyn and the Knicks’ campus in Tarrytown are supposed to be shut down under the state’s order. A person familiar with the NBA situation said plans are still fluid, but players on teams located in COVID-19 hot spots such as the Nets and Knicks would be helped out if May 1 becomes the day for opening league facilities. At the facilities that do open around the league, players can participate only in individual workouts — and not group sessions — the person said.
The Wolves are preparing right along with them, trying to be ready should the green light come. But they also remain in a period of mourning, for Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother, Jacqueline, and for a relative in Malik Beasley’s family, both of whom have been lost to complications from coronavirus. What has made matters worse for the Wolves is that the shelter-in-place orders enacted to try to limit the spread of the virus are also limiting their ability to connect with members of the organization that are hurting. “Anytime you lose somebody, especially somebody as important as a parent, you want to be there for them and you want to support them,” president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said. “We’ve tried really hard, anything and everything that we can to connect with Karl and his family and other players and other staff members that are going through it. But it’s not the same. You can’t hug somebody, you can’t spend one-on-one time with them. You can’t help them through this pain in a physical, personal way.”
For Beasley, it all starts with safety. If the players, coaches and fans aren’t healthy and are at risk of contracting a virus that has killed more than 50,000 in the United States and a couple in the Timberwolves family, the discussion should stop right there. “I just want to make sure our health is fine and make sure we’re good to go,” Beasley said. “That’s what we got to do, got to make sure we’re healthy.”
Whether it happens sooner or later, the Wolves will be ready when the day comes to get back on the court. But the preparation will continue with heavy hearts from losses that have underscored just how real this threat is. “We’ve done everything that we can to stay connected, to stay engaged, to provide resources, to provide support,” Rosas said. “But it’s painful. It’s frustrating and it’s disappointing. You just want to grab KAT and give him a hug and let him know we’re here with him. I’d love for our 15 guys and our coaching staff and our front office to be together through this. But it’s where we’re at in this point in time. Whether it’s calls, texts chapel services, we’ve continued to support him and his family as best as we can.”
When the NBA suspended the season, the question for the Cleveland Cavaliers was not whether they would pay the hundreds of game-day workers at their arena but how. Regardless of who was actually signing the paychecks for those workers. A USA TODAY Sports survey of all Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL teams found substantial discrepancies in how they are providing financial assistance to tens of thousands of game-day workers, particularly those employed by third-party vendors. Out of the 91 teams surveyed, the Cavaliers were one of just 29 that said they were paying workers who are employed by outside entities like food and beverage conglomerates, and aren’t directly on the team or venue's payroll.
A USA TODAY Sports survey found substantial discrepancies in how tens of thousands of game-day workers are receiving financial assistance from pro teams – and widespread reticence from those teams to disclose details of the plans they have publicly touted. USA TODAY Sports asked all 91 teams in the NBA, NHL and MLB to provide details of their assistance plans, and 32 responded with figures for how many employees were covered and what the program costs. Of that number, 28 also provided specific details about how the money is being disbursed. The plans varied in structure, size and the amount of money made available for workers, with financial commitments ranging from "more than $400,000" to $7 million.
The NBA reportedly will allow teams to open facilities in areas where coronavirus-related social distance restrictions have been eased, but the Golden State Warriors' facilities will remain closed as long as the City of San Francisco keeps its ordinances in place, league sources told NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday.
The Warriors -- who haven't played a game since March 10 -- will continue to adhere to the guidelines set by San Francisco Mayor London Breed and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Breed was among the first city leaders to enact social-distancing measures, banning all non-essential travel on March 16, despite San Francisco not having any known coronavirus cases at the time. Three days later, Newsom followed suit, enacting social-distance laws statewide. On Friday, Breed said she'd "very likely" extend the measure in San Francisco past the current May 3 date.
Payton said he has donated 10,000 masks to New Orleans medical facilities. “I just tried to help out by giving masks,’’ Payton said. “To the people that’s on the front lines and in the doctor’s office. It’s scary what this thing is doing to people around the world. For them to be there and risk their lives and take care of these people, I think it was important to reach out and help them. And the best way I thought to do that was the mask.”
The NBA is reopening team practice facilities for players in states and municipalities that are loosening stay-at-home restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic beginning on Friday, sources told ESPN. Players can return to team facilities in states such as Georgia for voluntary individual workouts as soon as next week, which allows for NBA organizations to start allowing for players to return to training in a professional, safe environment. Teams will remain prohibited from holding group workout or organization team activities, sources said.
In markets where more restrictive governance of stay-at-home-orders remain in place, the NBA is telling teams that the league will work with franchises to help find alternative arrangements for their players, sources said. The NBA's decision to re-open facilities based on the loosening of local governmental policies isn't reflective of a new timetable for a resumption of play this season, sources said. Commissioner Adam Silver and owners still believe they need more time for a clearer picture on whether, when or how they could possibly resume the season, sources said.
Many team executives have been clamoring for the chance to get players back into their facilities, which they believe to be among the safest possible environments around the pandemic. On a conference call with general managers and Silver on Thursday, some GMs said they had players asking about the possibility of traveling to Atlanta to work out in fitness centers with gymnasiums, an idea that concerned many team executives, sources said. "If our players can travel and play at a 24-Hour Fitness in Atlanta, they should be able to have access to our facilities," one GM told ESPN on Saturday.
Upon learning of the league's decision to allow for some facilities to reopen starting as soon as next Friday, some GMs expressed concern to ESPN about the safety of the idea -- especially given expert medical opinions have been against the idea of reopening businesses. "In some of these states we are talking about possibly opening, the virus hasn't even peaked yet," one GM said.
Where do you think the NBA goes from here? Thompson: "We’re just waiting for the health officials to give us the okay to start conducting business again. Adam Silver and the owners are waiting. The rest of us employees are in the same boat. If we can get started again soon, I’ll accept anything. Empty arenas. I’ll accept five games and going into the playoffs. I’ll accept no games and then go directly into the playoffs. Anything to get back to work."
Phoenix Suns broadcaster Tom Leander said he’s proud his daughter, an intensive-care nurse, stood up to demonstrators protesting stay-at-home orders at the state Capitol this week. In photos that have gone viral, Lauren Leander is seen in her scrubs silently facing down protesters who arrived at the Capitol to demand Gov. Doug Ducey rescind his order to shut down the state in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Derogatory comments were hurled at Leander as she stood silently near the protesters, arms crossed and face mask in place. “As a father of a nurse who is putting her life on the line every day she goes out there and receives that kind of treatment is incredibly disheartening,” Tom Leander said. “It’s beyond disheartening. It’s vile, and it’s so inappropriate, and it’s not representative of what our country should be about.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiserv Forum is serving as a distribution site for 2.5 million non-surgical face masks as part of MaskUpMKE, a local initiative benefiting the medical and nonprofit community. The Bucks opened Fiserv Forum to house the growing supply of kits and to speed up the delivery of face coverings in the community.
There will be changes. And the timeline for a return to whatever the new normal will be is unknown. Even so, Cynthia Marshall said that while nobody can know when we come out of this, we can determine how we come out of it. “We do know there will be a new normal in how we interact,” Marshall said. “We’re going to have Mavs’ masks, with the Mavs’ logo, we’re going to have gloves — even outside of games, just to help us live differently. We’re thinking of all of that just in terms of our people coming back to work.”
At the arena, she said, “we’re thinking about what kind of touchless mechanisms we will have. We’ll have thermometers that when you get within 10 feet, they’ll take your temperature automatically. There’s so much stuff out there. We have time to plan and come up with all kind of scenarios to make this a good experience for our fans. Rest assured we will have thought it out. “
Cynthia Marshall: “It is criminal that, in 2020, we have kids who can’t eat because school is out. They don’t have access to technology. That’s crazy to me. Not everybody can go to a grocery store. These are the things that are top of mind for us. My boss (Mark Cuban) is out there advocating for small businesses and people who are losing their jobs. Even though we’re not playing basketball, we’re playing the game of life with people right now. We don’t just play here. We live here, too. We’re part of something bigger and now we get to make it better.”
Harrison Wind: Stan and Josh Kroenke just announced the creation of a Kroenke Sports & Entertainment COVID-19 relief fund to further assist their employees impacted by the pandemic. The Kroenke Family Foundation will be leading with the first donation into the Fund in the amount of $500,000.
NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, together with its team partners – NBA’s Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, MLB’s San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s, NHL’s San Jose Sharks, MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes and NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, along with the teams’ apparel and merchandise partner Fanatics – and San Francisco-based bag manufacturer Timbuk2 have teamed up to donate 50,000 face masks and bandanas to Northern California health care providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams and NBC Sports have donated over 10,000 new t-shirts, and Timbuk2 will create cloth face masks and bandanas from the t-shirt material.
No mention of the financial arrangement was made on April 6, when Newsom stood on the empty floor of the Kings’ former home and praised Ranadivé for his generosity for opening up the arena and for other donations through the Kings’ charitable foundation, which included 100,000 masks. “We wouldn’t be here without him and without his support,” Newsom said. “It’s just an example of people all stepping in to meet this moment head-on.”
Brian Ferguson, a spokesman for Cal OES, said Friday there was no intent to deceive the public about the contract between the Kings and the state. The arrangement with the Kings “is consistent with what’s being done at the other sites,” Ferguson said. “We are paying a consistent rate at all the alternative (hospital) sites.” He added that the Kings have made available the team’s old practice facility, a separate building next to Sleep Train, at no charge. If the temporary hospital at the Sleep Train complex were fully occupied, the rate “would work out to $41 per night per guest, which for hospital care is a pretty nice price,” he added.
Denver Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic made a “significant donation” to the Doctor Radivoj Simonovic Medical Center, a hospital of his native Sombor, Serbia and help in the fight against coronavirus, per Telegraf. The amount of donation wasn’t announced per Jokic’s wishes.
"I think systemically there are aspects of our health care that need to be addressed," Brown said. "I think that there's been like elephants in the room in this country for a long period of time." He added: "When I watch President Trump and I watch some of these government officials, it just causes more anxiety and more panic, because I don't feel like people are on the same page. I think that we should be united in our stance. It's not a political game."
Brown wants to make a difference. Not when he's 30. Not after he is retired. He hasn't got time to waste, especially because of the pandemic. "Our communities, our families, our neighborhoods are being affected," he said, adding that the NBA and players have to "get into the community, benefit people and try to make it better because America is having a lack of medical resources right now. And I think people of color are suffering the most."
Eric Walden: Joe Ingles, on preparing to resume the NBA season: "I'm fortunate and lucky that I've got a gym at home; there are some guys on my team that live in apartments that don't have access to as much as what I do." Added that he got a hoop at his house for the first time 2 weeks ago.
Romeo Langford is doing his part to help Boston-area healthcare workers who are on the frontline of battling the coronavirus pandemic. The former New Albany star, Indiana University standout and Boston Celtics rookie, announced Thursday on social media that he will be donating meals to healthcare professionals at New England Baptist hospital in Boston after accepting a challenge from teammate and fellow rookie Grant Williams.
“Grant, I accept your project frontline challenge. Our healthcare workers are true heroes and I’m thankful for what they’re doing to keep us safe. To thank them I am donating [by] delivering meals to New England Baptist Hospital in Boston,” Langford said in a post on Twitter, before challenging another of his teammates to follow suit. “To continue our efforts to feed thousands of healthcare workers Marcus Smart, I nominate you, you’re up next.”
The Mississauga Food Bank says a $100,000 donation made earlier this week by New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett will provide 200,000 meals as part of the community's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Barrett, who is from Mississauga, made the donation Tuesday as part of a US$250,000 package to COVID-19 relief efforts in New York and Canada.
"One thing my family has taught me is the importance of being supportive when you can, in any way you can. During these difficult times, we all need to do our part and knowing I have the ability to help ensure people have what they need is important to me," Barrett said in a statement. "I'm happy I can make a difference in the neighbourhood I grew up in."
Mark Cuban is trying too put a spotlight on "the unsung heroes" of the COVID-19 pandemic -- death care workers -- who Mark says just aren't getting the attention and support they deserve. "I just want to say thank you to the death care industry," the Dallas Mavericks owner says ... "You're not out there getting credit. People aren't clapping for you when you drive home but you have to do some of the hardest things that anybody has to deal with during this pandemic."
“I think one thing that COVID-19 is revealing is that it is wiping away and peeling away a lot of the distractions and maybe the false sense of security that a lot of us have had,” Lin said. “And so, we may have been distracted with certain things — whether it’s entertainment to our work, to sports or whatever. And now, people are unable to work, people unable to enjoy sports, people unable to enjoy entertainment in the same ways and even socially, a lot of that has been stripped away, so a lot of people are coming face to face with themselves and it’s forcing everyone to look in the mirror.”
Lin followed up his words by donating $500,000 to Direct Relief and Feeding America — charities that respectively support healthcare workers in need of personal protective equipment and communities dealing with food insecurity — while pledging to match all donations up to another $500,000. As of Wednesday night, that initiative has already raised more than $137,000. In February, Lin also donated one million Chinese yuan ($142,000) to assist people in Wuhan. “Dude, I’ve got to do something. I wouldn’t be OK with myself if I didn’t do anything,” Lin said he told himself. “This is a critical juncture in history and if I don’t step up today, or if I don’t do certain things to help, then I don’t think that my faith is real. I don’t think my brand is real. I don’t think what I talk about is real. So, for me, a lot of what I believe in is authenticity. And I’ve made so many mistakes and had my fair share, but at the end of the day, I do my best to get back up and be authentic and to practice what I preach. Yeah, this is one of those situations where you can put your money where your mouth is, or you should stop talking. And so, that’s kind of where I’m at.”
As the coronavirus crisis forces all sports leagues to re-evaluate how they can once again host thousands of fans at stadiums across the country, at least one prominent data scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says there are steps teams can take that will make arenas "as safe as public parks." Professor Alex Pentland, the head of the Human Dynamic Lab at MIT, released a white paper this week suggesting companies can use digital tools to help create safer environments -- and told ESPN there are applications to sports as well.
Pentland said what would perhaps be the most dramatic change to the gameday experience are his recommendations on regulating pedestrian traffic flow once fans are in the stadium. Pentland suggests teams make aisles one way -- think of a one-way street -- so that fans aren't crossing each other. He also recommends fans who are seated in the same location enter from one gate and then sit together, because it "helps keep outbreaks localized to one physical area." Any gameday staff that cut across areas should be, Pentland said, "safe,"-- i.e. people who will not transmit the virus.
Jim Dolan, the 64-year-old CEO of the Garden, has clinically recovered from COVID-19, The Post has learned. An MSG spokesperson confirmed that Dolan, who tested positive the final week of March following exposure to an individual outside the company who carried the coronavirus, recently tested negative and is in good health.
Having recovered, the owner of the Knicks and Rangers is immersed in the effort to medically combat the virus by volunteering to participate in multiple clinical trials. He has donated blood to NYU Langone Health and Duke University Medical Center. In addition, Dolan has registered to donate plasma antibodies to the New York Blood Center for a trial being conducted by Mount Sinai.
Ian Begley: MSG spokesperson says Knicks owner James Dolan has recovered coronavirus. The spokesperson says Dolan, who tested positive for the virus last month, has donated blood plasma for potential treatments, confirming a NY Post report.
To support doctors, nurses and others who are on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Detroit Pistons united former and current players together to sing a rendition of a famous Ben E. King song. The Pistons released a video on Wednesday of the former guards — Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Dave Bing — along with current guard Derrick Rose singing “Stand By Me” with the Detroit Youth Choir. The video featured each singer performing remotely, in accordance with Michigan’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” guideline.
At least Jeremy Lin can train. He no longer has to remain in self-quarantine. Lin has spent the last two weeks in Beijing living with uncertainty. He has practiced daily with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Yet, he has no idea if the CBA will resume play after it suspended its season because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
While grieving, Lin remained on call in case he needed to return to China. That moment did not happen until March 18, a week after the NBA suspended its own season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Lin then spent the two weeks in self-quarantine. "A lot of the distractions and the false sense of securities that everyone used to have, a lot of that has been stripped away and taken away," Lin said. "The whole world has been humbled. We’re starting to really understand how human we are and how small we are and how little control we have. That’s how I would describe 2020."
A day before leaving the U.S., Lin expressed his displeasure on Twitter with President Donald Trump referring to COVID-19 as "the Chinese virus" since it originated in Wuhan. The Players Tribune then published Lin’s first-person account last week that described how Trump’s words influenced various attacks against Asian-Americans. "I don’t want any ethnic group or people group to be attacked or to have to deal with the racism," Lin said. "If there is something that is aiding that, that would compel me to speak out. At that moment in time, I felt like a lot of Asian-Americans were being attacked and are still being attacked."
Rod Boone: Speaking on a video conference call, #Hornets coach James Borrego said: "I do think we could still see basketball this season." He's obviously unsure when play will resume and if they will play all of their remaining 17 games. But he believes they will at least make an attempt.
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge says he's "holding out hope" that they'll finish the season. "But that's just me being a fan."
At least Jeremy Lin can train. He no longer has to remain in self-quarantine. Lin has spent the last two weeks in Beijing living with uncertainty. He has practiced daily with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Yet, he has no idea if the CBA will resume play after it suspended its season because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. "We're basically just waiting until June to decide whether we play in July or not," Lin told USA TODAY Sports from Beijing. "That's the current situation. We're kind of in limbo right now."
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August 18, 2022 | 12:11 pm EDT Update

Nets want to bring their team back, hoping Kevin Durant agrees to return

Windhorst: So from what I can gather, it appears he and the Nets are looking forward to meeting up in training camp. Whether Kevin Durant is there and his level of buy-in, that’s the big question. But right now, I think the Nets want to run this team back and they’re hoping Kevin Durant agrees. The way they’re conducting trade talks and the prices they are asking has teams out there thinking they don’t really want to trade Kevin Durant anyway. They want to bring this team back. We’ll see if Kevin Durant goes along with that in training camp.
On the heels of his second appearance in friendly action Wednesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play against Georgia Thursday. In the latter stages of the training camp, Greece will conclude the 31st International Tournament Acropolis Aegean facing Turkey Friday. After being rested today, the Greek Freak is expected to be part of the final test before official games take over the schedule next week.
August 18, 2022 | 8:28 am EDT Update
After being traded by the Portland Trail Blazers to the Clippers last February, Powell proceeded to play three games before sustaining a left foot fracture. His recovery took weeks, which only allowed him to suit up in the team’s last four games including the Play-In tournament. The veteran admitted that it was a tough experience of not being able to have an on-court familiarization with his team in the previous campaign. “It’s kind of a tough hill to climb on, only playing for three games and then coming back for the playoffs, it’s tough,” Powell said, via David Yapkowitz of 213 Hoops. “I really didn’t get a full chance to show what I bring to the table, just a little bit of a spark there.”
Former Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter Freedom explained why the NBA is “really mad” as its hypocritical business ties to communist China are exposed Wednesday on “The Ingraham Angle.” KANTER FREEDOM: Everything the NBA does is either for money or a publicity stunt. It’s been like that for years, so I’m not really surprised. They could care less about the players, about the coaching staff and the fans as long as the league image is profitable.
Enes Kanter Freedom: And finally, they are really mad because someone finally from the inside who played 11 years in this league — [is] going out there and exposing them one by one. And that is unacceptable… What is unacceptable is how they can bow down to the biggest dictatorship out there in the world. So that hurt my heart. I was like, “You know what? Enough is enough. Someone has to call out this hypocrisy.” And I did it.