Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra, on being allowed to work the sidelines without a mask, "It feels like in so many ways, there's just been these incremental steps back to normalcy. And then, all of a sudden, and even in the last 24 hours, it just feels like there've been some big moves.
Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra, on the Heat expanding their home playoff seating to 17,000, "I think that'd be exciting for the fans, for our players, the organization. You just start to see more and more signs that things are coming around. It brings you a great deal of hope, just in general."
Just in time for the playoffs, the NBA told its head coaches Saturday they may work without masks during games if they have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Assistant coaches and players will still be required to wear masks in the bench area. Head coaches may choose to go without masks after pre-game introductions through halftime, then again after halftime until the game concludes.
The memo, sent Saturday morning just a few hours before the postseason opener between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks and obtained by The Associated Press, also said that head coaches will have to wear masks during halftime, during warmups and shootaround before the start of the third quarter and postgame. If opposing coaches choose to meet briefly on the court after a game, masks are encouraged.
Adrian Wojnarowski: LeBron James won't be suspended for protocols violation, sources tell ESPN. Nature of event didn't rise to a threat level of virus spread, as described in @McTen 's story below. Suns-Lakers Game 1 on Sunday.
Shams Charania: Fully-vaccinated NBA head coaches are no longer required to wear facemasks when coaching games, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. This is in light of vaccination rates among coaches and recent CDC guidance.
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr said Damion Lee scrimmaged the past few days, both 3-on-3 and 5-on-5. He will be active tonight, but Kerr said Lee probably won't play.
Meanwhile, as cities across the country ease restrictions on movement and gathering as the number of vaccinations for COVID-19 increases, Silver stopped short of committing to completely full arenas by the time the NBA Finals roll around in July. And while seats around the court will remain in fewer numbers than normal, he expressed confidence that there will be far more fans than he expected in the seats as the playoffs move along. "I think it's very possible that come July, when our Finals will be, you'll see essentially full buildings," said Silver, who added that "close to 80%" of all NBA players have had COVID-19 vaccinations.
Ryan Russillo: I know everybody can kind of look at certain elements of the season where it was challenging, but what happened to you guys you think? Nick Nurse: Well, I think that there were a number of hurdles to jump, you know, right from the start with relocating everyone. A bit of a roster flip. You know, we lost a couple of very experienced, very good pieces to free agency in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. And then you know, I think it was bumpy to get through. We started playing really well, Ryan. I think we won two at Brooklyn, we won two at Milwaukee, we came back and beat Philly at home (...) We were in fourth in the East and then we got wiped out by COVID and the protocols. I think, seven players and seven staff and then a couple more players a little later, and that would take a lot longer than the 14-day kind of sit out. We just didn't feel quite right, myself included. And then, and then we had a month that was just like... we were almost wiped off, and we just never really recovered.
Joe Mussatto: Presti on not allowing fans this season: "The easy decision economically would've been to open the doors." He noted the decision was made when cases were rising in Oklahoma.
Tony East: Bjorkgren confirms LeVert is out tonight. That's all he is able to comment at this time. Bjorkgren learned that LeVert would be unavailable this morning, nobody else in the Pacers org will miss the game. Bjorkgren says he talked with LeVert on the phone and LeVert is "crushed".
Noah Levick: Since testing positive for COVID-19 in January, Seth Curry said he's felt "a little bit differently as a whole, and just the way I breathe at times is a little bit different — a little more fatigued." Curry said he's "pretty much healthy" and trying to be patient with himself.
Shams Charania: Just in: Indiana Pacers guard Caris LeVert is expected to miss tonight’s Play-In Tournament game vs. the Charlotte Hornets due to health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Levert is expected to be sidelined for multiple games as the expected timeline to return is at least 10-14 days, sources added.
Adam Spolane: Stephen Silas says he and his team will still have to take COVID tests tomorrow. He thinks its so they can do contact tracing on playoff teams if a positive comes up
The Golden State Warriors are trying to make it as easy as possible for fans to enjoy games at Chase Center, by offering free COVID-19 tests to those who don’t have proof of vaccination. “We’re making this super simple for fans,” said Yoyo Chan, vice president of community relations for the Warriors. “We’re requiring fans demonstrate negative COVID test results taken within 48 hours of tip off.”
The team is offering free tests that can be picked up from Chase Center or the Warriors’ Oakland facility. The Warriors will also provide free, self-administered tests on-site at the Chase Center for fans who sign up for a test when they purchase their game tickets.
Jared Weiss: Evan Fournier says since getting the first shot of vaccine, his long COVID symptoms are getting much better. But he is still feeling the symptoms a bit, especially during warmups. He is still waiting to get his second shot and hopes he'll be back to 100% then.
For the entirety of the 2020-21 NBA season, Tripp and four other people — Eboni Edmondson, Keyur Patel, Crystal Brown and Ebony Jackson (all with some experience in the medical field) — were hired by BioReference, the company that partnered with the NBA in order to maintain safe and healthy practices amid what would likely a turbulent season, to be COVID testers for the Pistons. These testers were who the players reported to first thing in the morning. They were the last faces the players saw before returning to their families or hotel rooms. Days were random. Days were long. They were at the mercy of the NBA, its schedule, and strict protocols. Testing twice a day. Before practice. After practice. Before a game. After a game. At home. On the road. If the Pistons’ plane landed back in Detroit at 2 a.m. from a road trip, sometimes that meant these workers would get three hours of sleep before they were back at the practice facility by 7 a.m.
Jason Anderson: De'Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes will not play again this season, per Luke Walton.
Around 75% of the NBA's players have been vaccinated, sources said, and commissioner Adam Silver continues to appeal to front-office executives to encourage further player participation ahead of the start of the playoffs next week. Beyond the broader health benefits of vaccinations, sources said, Silver outlined on a recent call with the league's GMs the concern that all playoff-bound teams share: Losing a key player for a week could decide a playoff series.
Rod Boone: Sources: Miles Bridges expected to return to the lineup for #Hornets against the Knicks on Saturday. si.com/nba/hornets/ne…
Ben Anderson: The @Utah Jazz announced that 13,000 fans will be in attendance during home playoff games. #TakeNote kslsports.com/?p=459386
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA and NBPA are discussing modifications to the health and safety protocols in light of CDC guidance that fully-vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a facemask or physically distance except in certain settings. In meantime, current protocols remain in place.
Clutch Points: “I’m back 😈😈😈” - Dennis Schroder on Instagram 👀 pic.twitter.com/YsccL6nqs4
The league continues to monitor every potential impact coronavirus could have on its players. Discussions are near constant and have included the possibility of delaying playoff games in the instance of positive tests, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Those conversations have not gone so far to set a tipping point. Teams with fewer vaccinated players are naturally at greater risk of seeing cases spread among teammates.
Former University of Michigan star, NBA standout and EPSN analyst Jalen Rose was back home Thursday. He was at his Jalen Rose Leadership Academy for a pop-up vaccination event in Detroit.
Rose takes his Detroit roots seriously and wants to set an example in a demographic that has been somewhat hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. "There are people that have apprehension toward whether they should get vaccinated or not," Rose said. "I did. And the reason why I did, because I hope to get back to some sense of normalcy."
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA, NBPA have added updates to protocols for COVID-19 fully-vaccinated individuals: - Rideshares and taxis allowed - No face shields in treatment sessions - On teams where 85% of players and staff vaccinated: hot/cold tubs and steam rooms permitted for multiple people
Over the last three weeks, De’Aaron Fox has endured headaches, body aches, chills and a serious case of restlessness, while helplessly watching his Kings fade from the playoff race without him. A particularly potent strain of the coronavirus walloped Fox on April 22 and has kept the Kings’ star point guard quarantined at home ever since. (He is expected to be cleared for basketball activities soon, assuming he passes NBA protocols.) In the meantime, Sacramento lost rookie stud Tyrese Haliburton to a season-ending knee injury.
First, Fox has to get out of the league’s health and safety protocols. The coronavirus “hit me like a truck,” he said, with headaches, body aches, chills and dehydration. It also hit his fiancé, former Cal point guard Recee Caldwell, though both are fine now. They’ve passed the time in quarantine watching a lot of TV and engaging in daily battles of Ping-Pong. (“It gets competitive, because the scores are usually super close,” Fox said.)
Chase Hughes: The D.C. Mayor's office has approved a waiver for the Wizards and Caps to begin allowing 25% capacity that will go into effect on May 14, I'm told. Details are still being ironed out, but looking good for Wizards' final home games and Caps playoffs.
Alex Schiffer: Nic Claxton, who missed seven games due to health and safety protocols said he tested positive for COVID-19 but didn't have symptoms. Had to quarantine in Miami and had just a bike and 40-pound weight to work out with.
The Orlando Magic are offering the coronavirus vaccine to as many as 2,300 Central Florida residents next week, becoming the latest NBA team to host such an event. The Magic partnered with AdventHealth and city officials to arrange the May 13 event at Amway Center, the team’s home arena. The Moderna vaccine will be available, free of charge, to anyone 18 or older.
Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee said he tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Lee, 28, is considered one of the rare "breakthrough cases" -- one of only 6,000 or so people who have tested positive for the virus after going through the full vaccination process, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "I did test positive for COVID about two weeks ago," Lee said prior to Thursday night's 118-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I did get the vaccine the middle, end of March, but essentially this was just a rare breakthrough case. ... Right now, there's no timeline in the immediate future for me coming back and playing."
"I had headache, chills, sneezing, congestion, soreness, body aches," Lee said while reading a list off his phone to keep track of everything he dealt with. "It felt like I was hit by a car. Like hit by two cars at once every step I took. It hurt, it was pain, soreness. It felt like there was a weight on my chest for a couple of days, like it was just hard to breathe."
Danielle Lerner: Stephen Silas could not confirm if Jae'Sean Tate, who is out tonight in health and safety protocols, tested positive for COVID. "He was our No. 1 guy we could plug into all the spots where people are injured or we needed help and not having him tonight is gonna be a big hit."
Shams Charania: Sources: Four new NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 492 tested in the last week.
Mike Vorkunov: Madison Square Garden will be able to expand fan attendance to 30% capacity for Knicks and Rangers games on May 19 after a recent decision by NY Gov. Cuomo to ease COVID-19 restrictions. It's been at 10% capacity since Feb. 23, when fans were allowed into the building again.
Damian Lillard: So we gone be the only damn team in the whole league with no fans .
Shams Charania: Hornets forward Miles Bridges is expected to miss 10-to-14 days due to health and safety protocols, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Bridges is having a strong season, averaging 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds.
The Jump: "Teams are gonna recommend players to get the one shot vaccination" —MacMullan #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump
Today the Atlanta Hawks announced plans to increase attendance for postseason play to 7,625 fans, approximately 45 percent of State Farm Arena’s full capacity. The plan received approval by both the NBA and the Georgia Department of Public Health. The Hawks opened the 2020-21 season with no fans in attendance before increasing capacity to 1300 fans on Jan. 26 and later increasing to 3000 fans for the second half of the season on March 13. At 35-30 (.538), the Hawks are currently in 5th place in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining (six at State Farm Arena) in the regular season. Fans can guarantee priority access to the 2021 Playoffs by visiting Hawks.com/membership or texting or calling (866) 715-1500 for more information.
Shams Charania: Lakers guard Dennis Schroder is expected to miss 10-to-14 days due to health and safety protocols, sources tell me and @Bill Oram. Schroder entered protocols on Sunday.
Mark Murphy: Fournier on his bout with COVID: "It’s a golden opportunity for me to finally be with a great team, and the fact I got COVID is heartbreaking, to be honest. That’s the hard part. You guys don’t know me yet, but I’m as mentally tough as it gets. I’ll get through that for sure.”
Jay King: Fournier said he's been feeling "really weird" since returning from COVID-19. Said it feels like he has a concussion. The bright lights were bothering his eyes and his vision was blurry. Everything going too fast for him. A bit better now but in some ways, "it's still the case."
Sixth man Alec Burks, who is out of COVID-19 protocols, was held out of Sunday’s contest but has a chance of suiting up in Memphis. The Knicks have not made Burks available for comment since his return to the team. He has missed eight straight games. “He’s getting a lot closer,’’ Thibodeau said.
KC Johnson: Billy Donovan on Zach LaVine: "I think we're hopeful that this will take another week. It's our best guess. There will be things he'll have to do going into this week that are set by the league in terms of their policies and protocols."
Shams Charania: Sources: Two new NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 488 tested since April 21.
Most of the absences have been tied to contact tracing, according to the spokesperson, who added that the league expects all 10 of the referees currently sidelined to be available for the playoffs, which start in less than a month. "We at the NBA have taken a very strong stance, especially with referees traveling commercial, that we want referees and the teams that they are serving to be safe," Monty McCutchen, the NBA's vice president of referee development and training, told ESPN. "And so with an abundance of caution, we pull people out on contact tracing, if there's even the smallest inkling [of an issue]."
Months later, in December, Monk would end up testing positive for COVID-19, and he experienced mild symptoms. He lost his sense of taste and smell, had chills, and was forced to isolate for 14 days during the ramp-up to an NBA season that he was greatly anticipating. Then, just when he was starting to get healthy, his grandmother died from the virus. Her death hit Monk hard and made him realize just how dangerous his situation had been. “That s--- was terrible, man,” Monk said.
Josh Robbins: Steve Clifford also said one of the officials in the Magic's game Tuesday in Atlanta tested positive for the coronavirus, placing the Magic in the league's enhanced protocol.
Josh Robbins: On a Zoom call with reporters, Steve Clifford reiterated that he feels fine and has no symptoms. He had a positive test Thursday night, two negative tests Friday and a positive test this morning. Clifford took another test this afternoon and will have another tomorrow morning.
Tim Reynolds: Steve Clifford does not expect to coach tomorrow night. Still TBD, officially. If he cannot go, Tyrone Corbin will coach the Magic.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford tested positive for the coronavirus, but results have shown to be inconclusive and he could coach on Sunday night vs. Pacers if he tests negative twice prior to tip-off, sources tell ESPN. Clifford has been vaccinated and has been asymptomatic.
The Magic were scheduled to practice Saturday and would have benefited from the work, especially considering their recent roster turnover. But the team had to cancel the session due to health and safety protocols after the positive test for Clifford. He has received his first vaccination shot and is asymptomatic and the team is hoping for a false negative, league sources indicated.
Josh Robbins: Reporting with @Shams Charania: League sources say Magic head coach Steve Clifford has tested positive for the coronavirus, but the Magic are holding out hope it is a false positive. Clifford has had his first vaccine shot already and is asymptomatic.
July 30, 2021 | 9:27 am EDT Update
Oklahoma City further added to its stockpile of future first-round picks as the Utah Jazz agreed to send a future No. 1 and center Derrick Favors to the Thunder for a future second-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday. Before the move, the Thunder already had 12 first-round picks above and beyond their own — some of which they can swap — over the next five drafts. Oklahoma City traded the No. 16 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft to the Houston Rockets for two future first-rounders — in 2022 (via the Pistons) and 2023 (via the Wizards). The Rockets then used the selection to pick Alperen Sengun.
Colangelo on Trae Young: “I’m happy that he wants to play for USA Basketball. We had him in one of our camps. We know him in USA Basketball. He’s done really well in the NBA. But predicated on what we felt we needed, he didn’t fit the bill this time around. He’s a young player, he has a future with USA Basketball but it was the opinion of our staff that it wasn’t now. It’s for others to make the declaration ‘you made a mistake.’”
Can roster continuity ever return? Colangelo: “Some things are under your control and some things are not. When I took over I did have some control over setting the tone. I did want a three-year commitment. I needed three-year commitments and I got them. Be it from Carmelo, LeBron, Wade, Chris Paul, etc. We had a good format where we had competition every two years. But the powers that be changed the format and they thought it was going to be a positive — and I immediately said it may be good for the rest of the world but it’s not for USA Basketball.”
As for the players, Colangelo pointed to injuries to Kyle Kuzma, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart that did them in during the World Cup, and the pandemic-condensed schedule that kept a quarter of the roster away because they were in the Finals. And also, this team, as constructed, can still win gold. “If we had everyone in training camp at one time and we were working collectively toward all of our goals and objectives, we would have been much further along. … If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set, blah blah blah, I don’t think we’d be having this discussion. I don’t. But that’s not the case. So we are gonna do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will.” — Colangelo
Aaron Baynes was ruled out for the rest of the Olympics after suffering a neck injury, Australia announced Friday. The injury during the Boomer’s win over Italy in the preliminary round of the tournament, Sunday. Baynes is expected to recover in the coming weeks, but not in time to help Australia for the rest of the tournament. Australia, who has a 2-0 record in the Olympics, will face Germany Saturday in the third pool game of Group B.
Spain players Marc Gasol, Alberto Abalde and Usman Garuba have been placed in semi-isolation after coming into close contact with with a person who tested positive for COVID-19,EFE reports, citing confirmation by the Spanish Federation. All three players can practice and play in the games but have to stay in individual rooms and travel in a different vehicle than the rest of the national team squad.
July 30, 2021 | 7:40 am EDT Update
“If we don’t win, people will have their opportunity to take shots. I’m the one that has to look in the mirror and know that I did my best,” Colangelo said. “I’ll tell you in advance the answer is yes. I believe we’re going to win.”
“A lot of (players) called me and said they wanted to play, and then said, ‘hmm, I’m not so sure.’ I can understand it, there’s been a lot of things going on,” Colangelo said. “It’s challenging when you can’t even go out the door, except to practice or to a game. It’s really hard. If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set…I don’t think we’d be having this discussion. I don’t. But that’s not the case. So we are going do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will.”