NBA rumors: LeBron James returned eight negative COVID-19 tests since Saturday

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Shams Charania: NBA statement on LeBron James: pic.twitter.com/amAumGxLO9

http://twitter.com/ShamsCharania/status/1466546092531671040
Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid said "it's going to take awhile" for him to fully round back into form after an extended bout with COVID-19. Embiid had his second straight rough shooting performance in Wednesday's 88-87 loss to the Boston Celtics. "I would never use it as an excuse but obviously I think it's going to take me awhile to get back, especially legs and cardio and all that stuff," Embiid said after going 3-for-17 against Boston, making him a combined 7-for-33 across Philadelphia's past two games. "But every single day I got to keep working hard, and keep getting better."
Embiid, however, shouldered the blame for the loss. "I can't be playing the way I've played these last two games, especially when it comes to shotmaking," Embiid said after finishing with 13 points, 18 rebounds, six assists, two steals and three blocks in 33 minutes. "If teams are going to double me and I'm not going to get easy baskets, I have to create for myself and my teammates, and I've got to make those shots."
Marc Stein: The Lakers' LeBron James has entered the NBA's health and safety protocols after increased testing was instituted leaguewide post-Thanksgiving. Teams were notified Nov. 19 that all players would have to test daily for COVID-19 from Nov. 28-Dec. 1 unless the team had an off day.
Adrian Wojnarowski: LeBron James -- who the Lakers are listing in health and safety protocols -- is expected to miss several games, source tells ESPN. Players with positive Covid cases must be out a minimum of 10 days.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The NBA’s completed study with infectious disease specialists and testing manufacturers on preseason antibody test results of 2,300 players and staff, finding further evidence of need for the NBA-NBPA recommendation of booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Among study’s findings: Antibody levels vary via vaccine type and among people vaccinated in same period; antibodies decline over time; Moderna and Pfizer vaccines created higher levels of antibodies compared to J&J. After reviewing results, NBA’s infectious disease experts believe some individuals who received J&J vaccine at least two months ago – or a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago – have increased risk of breakthrough infections.
Adrian Wojnaroski: Per study, NBA's aware of 34 cases of vaccinated player or staff diagnosed with breakthrough case of Covid. 3 of 34 infections with individuals with "not detected" antibody levels; 31 of 34 had detectable antibody levels much lower than average of remaining testing population.
Noah Levick: Joel Embiid on having COVID-19: “I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. It was that bad.” Embiid said his first workout was a couple days ago and it’s a “miracle” he played 45 minutes tonight.
Everyone has their reasons to stay home, and those decisions add up. NBA and NHL attendance are way down from 2018-19, the last season in either league that COVID-19 didn't shorten. Through Thursday, 23 NBA and 23 NHL franchises were experiencing spectatorship decreases. Of those 46 teams, 27 have seen attendance dip by more than 10%. Eight clubs are down more than 20%. These teams are spread across the United States and Canada, but all are playing indoors during a pandemic that won't relent.
Shams Charania: Sources: Clippers‘ Nicolas Batum is expected to miss at least 10 days due to health and safety protocols. Batum entered protocols and missed a win over Dallas today, which moved the Clippers to 10-7 on the season.
It was July 4, 2021, and a franchise secret at the time, according to multiple officials familiar with the inner-workings of the Bucks, was that nobody outside of a small braintrust knew whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo was vaccinated against Covid-19. The Delta variant was beginning to raise fresh hell. And the superstar’s vaccine secret — combined with what a high-ranking official who was just outside the braintrust called “hiccups” from Bucks management — stoked fear among employees across the franchise: That the highly contagious strain might come for them all… but especially for the most dominant athlete in the world.
The official recalls Milwaukee’s Delta blues: “We were very concerned that Giannis wasn’t vaccinated and that, with all of this exposure from all these different people,” the franchise cornerstone — a one-man band and the new face of the NBA — might get infected, or at least contact-traced by the NBA and forced to quarantine, potentially altering the course of sports history. “It hit everybody pretty quickly, but the biggest thing was: Just make sure Giannis tests negative.”
All season long, the Bucks had been almost fanatical in adhering to the league’s draconian virus protocols. The franchise had not permitted such passengers to join players on the road during the first three rounds of the playoffs, as they hunkered down with a long-standing mantra: Stay locked in. The temptation of Milwaukee’s first NBA title in 50 years, however, opened the Delta floodgates. “Of course we’re bringing our families,” three people remember head coach Mike Budenholzer telling the team. “It’s the Finals!”
When presented with the findings of a Rolling Stone investigation, the NBA’s Covid czar David Weiss and Alex Lasry, who was the Bucks’ senior vice president until he announced a U.S. Senate campaign earlier this year, acknowledged the previously unreported scale of a championship cluster. “This is the NBA Finals,” Lasry told Rolling Stone in an interview last week, on his way back from Joe Biden’s White House celebration of the Bucks’ eventual championship. “The last thing we need is for any of our guys — from the coach to the trainers to any of the players — is to be out. And even when you’re trying to be as responsible as possible, this virus is still going to make its way through.”
Upwards of a dozen people associated with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns tested positive for Covid-19 during the Finals, according to league sources and four team officials with knowledge of the situation: six vaccinated staffers, including coaching and medical staffers from the Bucks; family members and people in both franchise entourages; and one player, Giannis’ brother and teammate Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks refused to confirm a possibly frightening irony: Two officials say that a Milwaukee official responsible for keeping the team Covid-free tested positive during the Finals himself. “Hearing that the Suns also had issues, too, was a little bit scary,” says a second NBA official who was traveling with the Bucks. “It felt like Covid just dropped back out of the sky, came out of nowhere and just tried its best to ruin the Finals.”
Head coach Mike Budenholzer, recalls a source in attendance, encouraged his team to spend time with their guests: “Bud was super-imperative that everybody goes and sits with their family members, so everybody actually went out for the most part and spent time with their friends and family who came on the trip on the charter. So we were fully interactive with those people.” (Budenholzer’s agent referred a request for comment to the Bucks, who declined to comment.)
Eric Nehm: Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said he expects Middleton to play tomorrow night vs. the Lakers and confirmed there will be a ramp-up period for Middleton as they get him back in the fold. That would suggest minutes limits on how first few games, but Bud did not provide details.
Samantha Pell: New: Effective Nov. 22, fans will no longer be required to wear masks while at Capital One Arena, per @MSE. NBA-specific: “Pursuant to NBA mandates, fans will still be required to wear masks in player-proximate seating areas for Wizards games.”
As announced two weeks ago, less-stringent COVID-19 protocols will go into effect starting Monday night for fans at Mavericks games in American Airlines Center. On Monday morning, the franchise issued a news release updating the details of the protocols. The franchise also announced that pediatric vaccine doses will be available for children 5-to-11 years old starting at Monday night’s game against Denver, which tips off at 7 p.m.
Tom Orsborn: Regarding whether Poeltl will return for for one of the final two games of this three-game trip, Pop says: "I think he might be available for the Clipper game (on Tuesday). We'll see. It's close." Spurs end the trip in Minneapolis on Thursday night.
Keith Pompey: #GoodNewsForTheSixerFlow: Isaiah Joe has cleared #NBA protocols and will join the team in Indianapolis today, according to a source. He is expected to go through a workout pregame and will be questionable for tonight.
Jeff McDonald: Pop says it's "50-50" whether Jakob Poeltl will accompany the team on the three-game road trip that begins Sunday in LA. Poeltl must pass additional tests in order to clear health and safety protocols.
Chris Fedor: So there’s never been a question about this given the window that we are still in but #Cavs Kevin Love and Lauri Markkanen are still out because of the health and safety protocols.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on Jock Landale suffering another setback, this time an entry into health & safety protocols after enduring a preseason concussion: "It’s really tough for him. He was just starting to play in three-on-three and get his legs back and all that and then this happens.”
“It’s going well. I mean, I think we understand the situation we’re in, and a lot of guys got to step up and play different roles. I mean, we all think, like, he may come back. Who knows? But for now, we’ve got ... We still have to play the games with the guys we have here.” said Durant of the team’s feelings on Irving who the Nets exiled following his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Everybody’s been locked-in on that since Day 1 of the season. Just, like, let’s focus on who’s in the locker room and once that situation figured out, we’ll adjust back to that. But for now, everybody’s just trying to figure out their roles on this team. And at this point, it’s been exciting trying to figure that out.”
Rich Hoffman: The latest injury report lists Matisse Thybulle in health and safety protocols. Obviously, that means he's out for tomorrow's game in Chicago. Danny Green has been upgraded to questionable.
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September 25, 2022 | 7:41 pm EDT Update

Russell Westbrook: I don't need to feel wanted by the Lakers

Russell Westbrook was wearing a bucket hat, flip-flops and a smile inside the conference room in his Avenue of the Stars offices. Trade talks stalled, training camp on the cusp and Westbrook hardly had to consider the question: Do you feel wanted by the Los Angeles Lakers? “I don’t need to,” Westbrook told ESPN recently. “I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete.”
Westbrook spoke of getting back to work in the gym sooner in the past offseason than he has ever done in his career, about a summer full of conversations with Lakers coach Darvin Ham, about a “connection” and “trust” with Ham’s vision to utilize him in a way that impacts winning on these Lakers. Maybe that’s as a starter or maybe it’s off the bench. “I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
He sure isn’t here to tell you that his and the Lakers’ debacle of a season caused him to have to fight to keep his confidence. “No, I didn’t have to fight that,” Westbrook said. “I had to fight my response on how it affects the people close to me. To me, that was the important part. Confidence is not something I lack. Yes, there were times last season that I wanted to play better — that I should’ve played better — but my confidence never wavers. Having bad games is part of the NBA, and I understand that. The only thing it affected for me was the impact that it had on the people closest to me — my mom, dad, wife, brother, close friends. We’ve never had to deal with that as a family. That was the most difficult thing — being booed in the arena and having my kids there.”