Shams Charania: The Portland Trail Blazers have two players entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols – Dennis Smith Jr. and Trendon Watford – and remainder of the team will now be re-tested, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: After playing one game on a 10-day deal, Atlanta's Wes Iwundu has entered Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN. Iwundu played 23 minutes in the Hawks' victory over the 76ers.
Zach Lowe: Giannis Antetokounmpo has been cleared from health and safety protocols; he's expected to get on the court today and decide tomorrow whether to play on Christmas against the Boston Celtics, sources tell @Adrian Wojnarowski and me.
Chris Haynes: Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young (H&S protocols) is not expected to be cleared in time for the Christmas Day game against the New York Knicks, league sources tell @YahooSports.
When the Nets were pulling Brown off the court, they delivered Harden his testing news in the training room. Beyond the din of the Barclays crowd, Harden looked at Brown, and Brown looked at Harden, and they wondered what in the world was happening. "You feel anything?" Harden asked him. "I'm good," Brown said. "You?" No symptoms, Harden told him. Feeling fine.
On a weekly league medical call on Dec. 14, one team health official said the Bulls expressed frustration that they had a number of asymptomatic player cases, with each required to be sidelined for 10 days. Given the urgency of their situation, the Bulls were testing everyone, but they asked, why wasn't every other team doing the same? The Bulls believed there were more asymptomatic players out there, and that the league, by not mandating daily testing, wasn't doing enough to try and find them, a source said. To the Bulls, it felt unfair -- that they were suffering from a competitive disadvantage.
For the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, mandated daily testing in a league with a nearly 97% player vaccination rate didn't make sense. And their respective infectious disease experts agreed, according to league sources. Instead, as the winter months approached and cases started to surge nationally, the league urged booster shots, increased testing around Thanksgiving and advised continued vigilance.
Privately, several team executives and team health officials believed not testing everyone was financially motivated, though league officials have disputed this characterization to ESPN. For now, when a team has a positive case, that team is encouraged -- but not required -- to test all players and potentially impacted staff to see how far the virus has spread; the same is recommended when a team faces another team that has detected a positive test.
But the circumstances this winter are different. While nearly all players are vaccinated, team health officials note that almost one-third of players received the Johnson & Johnson single-shot dose, which offers the lowest level of protection compared to Pfizer and Moderna. There are concerns about waning immunity; only about 65% of eligible players have received booster shots, roughly 275 total players, sources say.
Kyle Goon: David Fizdale confirms that Dwight Howard is going to play tonight, helping the team’s depth with Trevor Ariza in protocols.
Christopher Hine: Chris Finch said Karl-Anthony Towns is currently asymptomatic, which is good news considering Towns said he had a tough battle with COVID last season.
Dane Moore: No excuses from Chris Finch when talking about being down seven bodies tonight, including KAT: "I've been in the G-League. This is no different than the G-League. You lose your best players in warmups sometimes -- you just throw new guys in, and the guy goes out and plays."
Bill Oram: No real surprise here, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel remains in health and safety protocols, meaning David Fizdale is in line to serve as acting head coach for a third straight game.
Omari Sanfoka II: League source confirms Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saben Lee and Rodney McGruder are all in COVID protocols.
James Edwards III: Rex Kalamian said he's been on the phone all day with Dwane Casey to prepare for Miami, and then an hour ago, things chanced with less players being inolved. "On the bus, I told the guys, 'let's go. we have a game.'"
Shams Charania: Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has entered COVID-19 protocols.
Stefan Bondy: Obi Toppin and Quentin Grimes are available tonight but RJ Barrett needs more conditioning, per Thibodeau
Chris Kirschner: Kevin Huerter is still out for tonight’s game. Sharife Cooper is now in health and safety protocols and is out for tonight’s game.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Detroit Pistons have a Covid outbreak that includes Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Saben Lee entering the league's protocols. The Pistons are preparing to play at Miami tonight.
Justin Grasso: Doc Rivers says that everybody in the health and safety protocol is feeling fine. Shake Milton was the only one with symptoms he believes #Sixers
Jim Eichenhofer: Willie Green said Nickeil Alexander-Walker is "feeling fine" but is in health and safety protocols. #Pelicans are without both Valanciunas and NAW tonight at Orlando. They were the only New Orleans players to have appeared in all 32 games (Temple, Murphy next with 30)
Khobi Price: R.J. Hampton is out of the NBA's COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols. He won't be available tonight vs. the Pelicans as works on his conditioning.
Shams Charania: Wizards‘ Bradley Beal has entered health and safety protocols and is listed out tonight vs. Knicks.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA is nearing an agreement with the NBPA to lessen the quarantine period for Covid-positive players, sources tell ESPN. In some testing cases, the current 10-day quarantine protocol could be shortened to clear players for return. This a similar model to the NFL’s new plan.
Shams Charania: Lakers‘ Trevor Ariza has entered health and safety protocols, team says.
Shams Charania: The NBA and NBPA are in talks on shortened quarantines for players who test positive for COVID-19, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Sides are discussing allowing players to return faster – as soon as six days – based on testing cycle threshold.
Chris Kirschner: For tonight’s game at Philadelphia: Clint Capela (health and safety protocols) is out. Danilo Gallinari (health and safety protocols) is out. Solomon Hill (right hamstring tear) is out. Kevin Huerter (health and safety protocols) is out.
Chris Kirschner: De’Andre Hunter (right wrist injury recovery) is out. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (health and safety protocols) is out. Lou Williams (health and safety protocols) is out. Trae Young (health and safety protocols) is out.
Shams Charania: Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom has entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. He becomes the eighth Celtic to enter protocols.
Adrian Wojnarowski: New Orleans Pelicans G Nickeil Alexander-Walker has entered the league’s Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN. He had 27 points in victory over Portland on Tuesday. Alexander-Walker is Pels’ first player in protocols this season.
Adrian Wojnarowski: RJ Barrett is out of Covid protocols, the Knicks say.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Jevon Carter is also out of health and safety protocols. That makes 3 Nets (James Harden, Paul Millsap and Carter) out of health and safety protocols.
As The Athletic reported last week, the NBA has put some thought to allowing COVID-positive but asymptomatic players to keep playing instead of quarantining — right now, the NBA says players must sit out at least 10 days after a positive test — but Silver said the NBA “is not quite there yet.” Any change would come after negotiation and an agreement with the NBA players union; no discussions about this have occurred yet, according to a source.
According to a person with direct knowledge of Silver’s thinking, the commissioner has confronted this month’s 100-plus new cases — and counting — by trying not to make up precedents on the fly. Silver, this high-level source tells Rolling Stone, knows he could be criticized even more for inventing parameters for a return-to-play than for believing in a vaccine mandate: “Just as there’s no magic playbook to when you shut down the season, there’s no playbook for when you come back. He has a rulebook right now, and his rulebook says that if you have eight players, you play.”
According to an internal memo sent from league doctors to teams on Thursday and obtained by RS, both sides have also agreed to increased masking and a temporary reinstatement of mandatory daily testing for vaccinated but unboosted players between Dec. 26 and Jan. 8. This annoys basketball players, who have been swabbed more than perhaps any industry’s employees throughout the pandemic, and sources suggested that the union is almost certain to let the policy lapse following the holidays.
While Adam Silver recently announced the NBA will not follow the NHL's lead and suspend the season, Goldstein says the best thing to do is shut it down. "Regardless of what the NHL did, the NBA should close down as soon as possible," Goldstein said at Dwight Howard's OxeFit after-party at the SoHo Warehouse. "Most of these players (who test positive) are healthy. If the NBA wants to let them play, that's another story. But if they forbid them from playing, I feel cheated as a fan, going to the games and watching G League players play instead of the stars."
Ohm Youngmisuk: Ty Lue said Reggie Jackson said he doesn’t have any symptoms and is feeling fine. Luke Kennard (hip), who is also out, has been dealing with a hip issue and felt sore this morning. So the Clippers see this as a good opportunity to get him rest between games.
Rylan Stiles: Mark Daigneault says they are aware they have been able to avoid COVID protocols but "no one is above the virus adds "there is a randomness" but the team is staying "humble" and as "vigilant" as possible.
Sarah K. Spencer: Kevin Huerter is now also out in health and safety protocols. That's six Hawks out in protocols now.
Anthony Slater: Damion Lee has entered health and safety protocols. Third Warriors player, joining Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. Lee started in Poole’s place last game and scored 18. All three out vs Memphis tomorrow. So is Andre Iguodala. Knee swelling.
Rod Beard: #Pistons Cade Cunningham is the only DET player listed in health and safety protocols. Frank Jackson (right ankle inflammation) is listed as questionable, and Killian Hayes, who missed Tuesday's game because of a non-COVID illness, is NOT listed.
Tim Bontemps: Ime Udoka says Robert Williams will be back tonight but that the seven players in health and safety protocols remain in the same holding pattern, waiting for either enough days to go by or two negative tests more than 24 hours apart.
Shams Charania: Detroit Pistons rookie Cade Cunningham has entered health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: 76ers guard Danny Green has entered COVID-19 protocols and is listed out vs. Hawks on Thursday. Fourth Philadelphia player in health and safety.
Kyle Goon: David Fizdale says Frank Vogel “is doing better, he’s doing great.” Says trying to work with Vogel coaching remotely is different for him (he was not coaching when the pandemic began) but he’s adjusting and making it work.
Ira Winderman: Heat injury report for Thursday vs. Pistons is out, with the following all listed as out: Jimmy Butler (tailbone) Bam Adebayo (thumb) Markieff Morris (neck) Victor Oladipo (knee) Caleb Martin (protocols) P.J. Tucker (leg) No other players currently on injury report.
Sarah K. Spencer: Lou Williams and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have been added to health and safety protocols for the Hawks. Five players in protocols, including Trae Young, Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Knicks center Nerlens Noel has entered the league's Covid protocols, source tells ESPN.
Orlando Magic PR: The following players for the @OrlandoMagic will be out tonight at Atlanta due to NBA Health & Safety Protocols: - Mo Bamba - Ignas Brazdeikis - R.J. Hampton - Mychal Mulder - Terrence Ross - Moritz Wagner
But I've heard little surprise expressed in the Showcase crowds about the league's push to try to grit through the winter months as seen in 2020-21. The NBA did not bake flexibility into this season's schedule like it did last season by releasing only a first-half schedule for starters, so the desire to limit the number of game postponements that require second-half solutions by any means necessary was somewhat expected.
Adrian Wojnarowski: G-League players leaving Las Vegas to sign hardship exemptions to join NBA teams are eligible to play immediately, but must return negative tests for five consecutive days upon joining the new team, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. Those rules apply to vaccinated players.
Gerald Bourguet: In response to rising cases, Monty Williams said Chris Paul addressed the Suns as a team about what they all can do to do their part in minimizing the spread of COVID and keeping each other safe
Tim MacMahon: Injured Mavericks — including Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis — will not be on bench tonight due to COVID concerns. “We’re trying to stay away from each other as much as possible,” Jason Kidd said.
Eric Nehm: On the Bucks' first injury report for tomorrow's game against the Rockets, Wesley Matthews is no longer in the health and safety protocols.
Quinton Mayo: Wizards SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols after a positive test, is asymptomatic per source.
Rob Schaefer: Adam Silver says on ESPN that NBA player pool is around 97 percent vaccinated, 65 percent boosted. League would like to get boosted number near vaccinated number
Adrian Wojnarowski: Adam Silver tells @Malika Andrews that the Omicron variant constitutes 90 percent of the league's cases now. "Beyond dominant," he said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Cleveland Cavaliers F Ed Davis has entered the league's Covid protocols, sources tell ESPN. Cleveland has eight players in protocols, but traveled to Boston today and is expected to play vs. the Celtics on Wednesday. Cleveland's added two replacements and likely will add another.
Kevin Chouinard: Adam Silver, on ESPN: "No plans right now to pause the season."
Eric Koreen: On @espn with @Malika Andrews , Adam Silver says he has difficulty understanding what logic would be in pausing the season. “This virus will not be eradicated, so we have to learn to live with it."
August 11, 2022 | 7:20 pm EDT Update
There is a growing belief among rival teams that Durant knew when he issued that me-or-them ultimatum that Tsai had no intention of yielding to the request and firing Marks and Nash. One resultant theory that the Durant/Tsai meeting spawned is the idea KD has begun trying to manufacture as much behind-the-scenes discord as he can in hopes that it will lead the Nets to lower their asking price and trade him out of exasperation.
Appearing on The Scoop podcast with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North and 5 Eyewitness News, Glen Taylor said new Wolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly had his eye on multiple impact trade targets, but Gobert was his “number one option.” The input of head coach Chris Finch, who expressed confidence in his ability to use Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, was also a key factor in Minnesota’s decision to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal. “What I did when Tim and Chris talked to me about this trade is to ask (Finch) is there a system that he knows how to utilize these players,” Taylor said. “And he was very confident that he did understand how to utilize their skill sets, being two big guys. We talked about a lot, so he convinced me that this is something that is going to take us to a winning situation, and gave us the go-ahead to make the trade.”
Asked if he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell sign an extension before the season begins, Taylor said it might benefit both sides to hold off and see how the 2022/23 season goes. “(Finch) believes that with the new lineup, and with Russell in that lineup, that he’ll have a much better year just because of the way we’re going to play,” Taylor said. “He says he thinks there’s a big upside for Russell with this group of (players). That’s to his advantage and to our advantage if it works out.”
The plan remains for Taylor to hand over control of the franchise to incoming owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in a little over a year. The Wolves’ longtime owner said he’s not having any regrets about giving up control of the team as it becomes a more legitimate contender. “No, I don’t have any second thoughts. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Taylor said. “We’ve left some options open that I’ll continue to be involved if I want to be involved, and that suits me just fine.”
“My favorite NBA player to watch besides Steph is Luka,” Green said on the latest edition of his eponymous podcast. “Luka different. I mean, the way he sees the floor, scores the basketball, gets to his spot, his pace. It’s Luka for sure.”
August 11, 2022 | 5:46 pm EDT Update
The Cleveland Cavaliers will be gathering in Los Angeles for voluntary, player-led pre-training camp workouts next week, sources tell cleveland.com. All-Star point guard Darius Garland and Rookie of the Year runner-up Evan Mobley — two guys who spend time on the West Coast during the offseason — are helping organize the workouts.