An executive who spoke to TrueHoop says he had a most unusual conversation with a high-powered agent. Like the Warriors, his team had been ravaged by injuries and needed fast help. The call began in standard fashion: The executive asked if such-and-such free-agent clients were in shape and ready to go. The agent replied yes, several of them were. Good. They went back and forth on some candidates, but both could sense that neither had asked the real question. Nobody had addressed the elephant in the room. Finally, the agent blurted it out: “Remember … he’s had COVID-19 already. He might be, um, more employable for you.”
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An agent told TrueHoop that he heard from the Celtics, who were looking for, in the agent’s words, “a free agent center who had recently recovered from COVID-19.” An NBA general manager who spoke with TrueHoop put it this way: “[Getting COVID-19] is, unfortunately, like getting a FastPass at Disney World.”
The executive who told the story above found himself considering the logical extension of this dilemma: If you’re just outside the NBA and dreaming of a call-up, is there an argument to get infected? Some team officials make analogous comments: If COVID is going to rage through a team at some point this season, is it better now than in the middle of a playoff run? Another NBA source says, “I guarantee those conversations are happening in locker rooms.”
Marc Stein: "This is one shot I won't block." -- Celtics legend @RealBillRussell takes the COVID-19 vaccine in the NBA's latest PSA ... joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Gregg Popovich in the league's campaign: youtube.com/watch?v=CfOG24…
Shams Charania: Zero NBA players tested positive for coronavirus out of 482 tested since Jan. 27, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Iman Shumpert — signed Saturday but still awaiting clearance to join the team — has been idle for far longer. He hasn’t played an NBA game since Dec. 11, 2019, with the Nets. He’d been working out in Atlanta and has said he’d only need a week to get game-fit, but that could be ambitious. If he keeps posting negative COVID-19 tests he could be cleared to join the team by this weekend, according to a source.
Barry Jackson: Tyler Herro said his COVID scare was from his girlfriend's false positive. She subsequently tested negative twice, thus allowing him to play yesterday and moving forward. Herro has said he had COVID last year, before the Disney bubble.
Kevin O'Connor: Yeah, it certainly seems that way. It seems to be trending in that direction, where we're gonna see, you know, a group of games canceled, so teams don't have to deal with that hassle. And, you know, I've had conversations with a handful of executives in the past week where the conversation has started to shift at least among teams, not necessarily in the league office. But like, is there logic here to having a short term bubble until it's to the point where you can get vaccines for players and coaches and people who work on those teams and travel? Because what they're doing right now doesn't seem to be working that well.
Kevin O'Connor: [...] Some front office executives and coaches or from conversations I've had previously, were like 'a bubble shouldn't happen, won't happen,' have now said, 'Well, maybe it should happen for at least a period of time until you can get vaccinations and all that.' Ryan McDonough: Well, yes, I have heard that as well, Kevin. And that's one of the other options. It's very difficult logistically to pull off in a short period of time, because there's, you know, a shutdown on March 11.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Detroit Pistons are departing Denver for Salt Lake City, where they're expected to be able to play their scheduled game with the Jazz on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. Pistons stayed in Denver, retesting players after postponement vs. Nuggets tonight.
James Edwards III: Hearing the test in question was a false positive for the #Pistons. Team is headed to Utah and expected to play.
Omari Sanfoka II: Someone within the Pistons organization tested positive, I'm told. With four games left on their road trip, unclear what the rest of the trip will look like. Depends on contact tracing
Mike Singer: Source: The positive/inconclusive on the Pistons was NOT Mason Plumlee or Jerami Grant, who multiple Nuggets players interacted with.
Dane Moore: Ryan Saunders said both Karl-Anthony Towns and Juancho Hernangomez are "progressing" in their recoveries. Saunders also said "you want practice time" before a return. The Wolves play back-to-backs or every other day all month, so that practice time may be tough to come by.
Darren Wolfson: #Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to @Minn_Sports on KAT's playing status: “I would think it would be this week, yes.” KAT is out tonight, but is on the road trip.
Dane Moore: Juancho Hernangomez, who has been in health and safety protocols for weeks, is questionable to play tonight in Cleveland. Karl-Anthony Towns remains out in the health and safety protocols.
The Miami Heat is again facing uncertainty because of the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Heat guard Tyler Herro is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Sun) due to protocols. Herro was not with the team for practice Sunday.
Washington is tied for the worst winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, but it’s also only three games back of No. 7. It has about as many losses as all the teams in the bottom nine, since it skipped those six postponed games. Its modest goal remains sneaking into the play-in tournament. Talk to people inside the organization about the recent bout with COVID, and a supposed silver lining will often follow all the necessary complaints about the awfulness of that whole situation: At least it gave Westbrook time to rest, they’ll say, searching for some kind of optimism.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro revealed after a 105-104 win over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night that he learned a housemate has tested positive for COVID-19. Herro said he got that news at halftime and was uncertain if he will have to quarantine because of possible exposure. His revelation came on the same night All-Star forward Jimmy Butler returned after missing 10 games because of the NBA's health and safety protocols established for safe play during the coronavirus pandemic. Butler scored a season-high 30 points after missing 12 of Miami's 18 games because of virus-related issues, as the Heat ended a five-game losing streak.
The Heat also didn't play Kendrick Nunn on Saturday because he was awaiting a COVID-19 test result when the game started. Nunn was cleared by the second quarter and could have played, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra elected to not use him. "We were waiting for his test results," Spoelstra said, as quoted by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "At that point he wasn't available in the first quarter, so I went a different direction. ... It's just one of those unfortunate things. I guess if those type of things are going to happen, it'll happen to us."
The Grizzlies return Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Southeast) but they won't be at full strength. Jonas Valanciunas and Grayson Allen won't be available as both are in the NBA's health and safety protocols per the team's injury released Friday. Valanciunas has been sidelined since Jan. 17. Valanciunas, however, has rejoined the Grizzlies on this road trip. He posted a video on Twitter of him walking to the team plane as he said that he's recovered from COVID-19.
He could be available on Monday against the Spurs or Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers but the Grizzlies are likely showing the same caution they had with De'Anthony Melton when he entered the league's COVID-19 protocols last month..
Paul George said he was "super relieved" that he and Kawhi Leonard are healthy after having to enter the NBA's health and safety protocols. George and Leonard were cleared from protocol and returned to help the visiting LA Clippers cruise past the Orlando Magic 116-90 on Friday. "We were playing so well, it was unfortunate that we had to take a hiatus, but safety's first," George said. "We acknowledge that first and foremost."
Lasry said he didn't receive special treatment because of his position with the Bucks, his political aspirations or his father's wealth. "That has nothing to do with anything," Lasry told the newspaper. "Honestly, if I wasn't married to Lauren, I don't know that I would have gotten a call or known about it." Evers said he would rather see providers administer vaccine outside the priority phases than let it go to waste, saying the number of doses administered outside the protocols is going to be a tiny percentage of all inoculations.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on why he did the COVID-19 vaccine PSA: "We are in dire circumstances. It’s kind of amazing to me that there’s a swath of our population that still doesn’t believe that. But somebody a whole lot more incisive and smarter is going to have to figure that one out. If we can do our part in any way in making people feel comfortable that getting this shot is wise both for them and everybody else around them, I think we need to do it."
Alex Lasry, a 33-year-old Milwaukee Bucks executive and son of a billionaire, received the coronavirus vaccine this week at a senior living center in Milwaukee despite not being part of a group currently eligible for the shots in Wisconsin. Lasry told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he "just got lucky" and didn't receive any favoritism.
The New York City native, who is a hedge fund manager, is considering running for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin in 2022. He was also host committee chair for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which was awarded to Milwaukee but then moved online due to the pandemic. Lasry, son of Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, said his wife, Lauren, got a call Monday from her uncle, who is rabbi at Ovation Chai Point Senior Living, saying the senior living center had some extra, unused vaccine doses.
The Jump: "We didn't practice for 9 days. When we did practice, we had 8 guys. Beal has been leading us. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel" - Brooks #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #DCAboveAll pic.twitter.com/YuamTVy82v
Anthony Chiang: On 1:30 p.m. injury report, Jimmy Butler (protocols), Goran Dragic (left groin strain) and Tyler Herro (neck spasms) are questionable for tonight's game vs. Clippers. But now Duncan Robinson (quad contusion) is also questionable.
Tom Orsborn: In an NBA-produced PSA, Pop, who turned 72 today, said of getting the COVID-19 vaccine: "It will keep me safe, keep my family safe and keep other people safe....Science-wise, it’s a no-brainer. It’s the right thing to do so we can all get on track again. Let’s do this together."
Late Wednesday afternoon, days after what would have been the biggest game of the season [...] the Cleveland Cavaliers held a Zoom call with key state officials in hopes of boosting their attendance even more than the nearly 2,000 currently allowed.
During the second meeting in less than three months, the Cavs presented an enhanced plan and played a collection of supportive first-person video testimonials from initially-hesitant fans who have attended games inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this season, enjoyed the experience, felt safe and expressed interest in returning.
The Cavs asked for their original variance request, submitted on Nov. 4, to be honored -- an allowance of 4,596 people, which is 23.65% of the arena’s typical 19,432-person maximum. Their argument remains the same: They are the standard when it comes to arena innovation across the state and should be viewed as separate from other venues because of the massive million-dollar investment in upgrades, systems and technology, allowing them to implement unique protocols that have been successful in the first seven home games.
Gregg Popovich has received the COVID-19 vaccine. Spurs coach and USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich revealed today that he has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
In an effort to combat the piling up of games due to postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA on Wednesday said it will adjust the existing schedule to avoid having to fill in too many games during the second half of the season. To do so, the NBA will do two things: reschedule games that have already been postponed, where possible, between now and the league's scheduled midseason break in early March; and reschedule games to the second half of the season -- which has yet to be announced -- in order to squeeze in more games where possible in the first half.
Washington’s second-half schedule might not be as jam-packed as first thought, after the NBA said Wednesday it was rescheduling some Wizards games after a half-dozen of their contests were postponed in recent weeks for virus-related reasons. Portland will now visit Washington on Tuesday, a game that was originally set for the second half. Washington will play at Charlotte on Feb. 7, a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 20. And that means the Blazers, who were scheduled to visit the Hornets that day, will now go to Charlotte in the second half of the schedule.
Shams Charania: The NBA and NBPA have agreed to extend the revised tightened health and safety protocols for an additional two weeks (Feb. 10) at least, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
COVID-sniffing dogs are now a thing in America ... and the pups are getting their first whiff of action at an NBA game in Florida. The Miami Heat debuted the virus-sniffing dogs at Wednesday's game at AmericanAirlines Arena, with our four-legged friends screening fans before they could be allowed inside the building.
Attempts to grow closer as a team are confronting a world in which proximity to teammates is both dangerous and prohibited. As a result, NBA players and staffs have been reduced to distant conversations through face masks, and a road life dominated by individual screens rather than collective camaraderie. "The reality is that you can't do stuff like that anymore," Haslem said. "Those opportunities don't exist." In Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner's words: "It's a bubble within a bubble."
STARTING AN AVERAGE day on the road, an NBA player must now wake up as early as 7:30 a.m. to be tested before a practice or shootaround, depending on the market. He then returns to his room to catch another hour or so of sleep, or to busy himself with a video game, an episode of a series or maybe a FaceTime session with family back home. A couple of hours later, he reports downstairs to board the team bus. The wait in the lobby is traditionally a time when players schmooze and hang out, but with everyone at least 6 feet apart and masked, the vibe has taken on an edgy quality.
Pre-practice strategy sessions at the hotel can no longer last more than 10 minutes. Shootaround or practice offer some normalcy, but breakfast back at the hotel in a ballroom, typically a communal ritual where players and staff yuck it up at tables for eight, now operates as a grab-and-go. Want some fresh air? Forget about taking a walk outside, even though the CDC and other leading medical institutions regard outdoor activities with the appropriate precautions as low risk.
Back in the hotel room, the walls close in for players. More video games and binge watching. Myles Turner has delved into Narcos and has been playing Cyberpunk 2077, while Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph recently watched the Tony Parker documentary on Netflix. "I don't think locking up in a room for 24 hours just coming out to play basketball is mentally healthy," Haslem said. "I need to go out and take a walk because there are things that can pile up that have nothing to do with the game of basketball. And you're saying that I can't even go take a walk? I don't think that's right. Even in the bubble, you can go take a walk and get some fresh air."
This season, that ground rarely extends much past the door to a hotel room. The Spurs' custom on the plane has been effectively prohibited. Under the new guidelines, players must sit next to the same guys they sit next to on the bench during games. On an off night, it's dinners for one in the room -- a far cry from the jovial dining out experience in a road city. "I think that's hard -- having options taken away," Holiday said. "You might go to your favorite city, and have a favorite food spot that people might not know about. And that's something that you can bring to the table, something you share, and [this season] you can't really share that."
Ira Winderman: The Heat have installed some plastic partitions at AmericanAirlines Arena for closer fan seating starting Thursday. pic.twitter.com/kOk4dnXhLD
Tim Reynolds: Avery Bradley is available. Goran Dragic is out. Tyler Herro is TBD.
Shams Charania: One new NBA player tested positive for coronavirus out of 492 tested since Jan. 20, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium . Down from 11 positives last week and 16 the prior week.
A month into the season, and I can only draw one conclusion: The NBA blew it. The decision to play games in home markets has been a failure. Dozens of games have been postponed. Countless more have been impacted by player absences. A 72-game season for many teams is a pipe dream. The ticket revenue squeezed out of a handful of arenas has been overshadowed by daily disruptions. The unwillingness to eat the cost of a closed-campus environment has come at a greater price. “F--- this,” texted a veteran assistant coach last week. “I’m ready to go back [to the bubble].”
Across the NBA, a return to bubble life is picking up supporters. “It’s starting to get janky,” tweeted Aaron Gordon. “I’d be cool with a bubble if it was in the Bahamas or Hawaii and we got to bring our family/wife or girlfriend.” George Hill didn’t go that far, but when the NBA announced stricter protocols this month the Thunder guard declared, “If it's that serious, then maybe we shouldn't be playing.”
Mirjam Swanson: Ty Lue on Kawhi and PG's absence due to health and safety protocols: "It's so much uncertainty with the COVID situation, you never know, it's tough... It's a tough time, but thankfully those guys are feeling well and they can get better and come to join the team soon."
Andrew Greif: Per the most recent injury report for tonight's game, there are no additional players listed for the Clippers. Still Beverley, Leonard and George listed out.
Dr. Leroy Sims has been on hundreds of Zoom calls since the pandemic hit the United States. Many were of sobering variety. But on Sunday afternoon, the NBA senior vice president of medical affairs led a Zoom call that had special meaning to him as he talked to his grandmother, uncle and other family members and close friends who were mostly African American about why they should take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There was some skepticism,” Sims told The Undefeated in a phone interview on Jan. 22. “They asked, ‘Were Black people included in the clinical trials? How did they really know it worked?’ I used a slide with results and graphs showing treatment vs. placebo. I walked them through the vaccine development process and how this timeline works. It helped knowing that I got vaccinated after having my own hesitation initially, which I shared. I told them that it wasn’t mandatory that I got vaccinated, but my research and reviews helped me make my decision. I said I would recommend it to grandma. That I swayed her helped them too.
“Just being able to have someone break it down for them, someone speaking to them who they know and trust, and someone there to answer all their questions gave everyone across the board more comfort with the vaccines. I appealed to the reality that they, my parents and elders, got other vaccines and vaccinated us throughout the years. So, I know they aren’t anti-vaxxers. I encouraged them to ask questions, remain curious and make informed decisions, and not just accept things based on blind faith, because medicine is supposed to be based on evidence.”
What is the state of the NBA as it attempts to play out the season with the challenges that come with COVID-19? I would say that if you judge us independently of what happened in the bubble, we’re doing as well as we expected and are probably where we thought we would be. Judging us against the bubble, where we were in a controlled environment and we had no players test positive, then it makes the season seem like a contrast. But in reality, in both situations, we were able to generate health and safety protocols to keep people healthy and safe. If you look at where we are with this season, we’re playing the majority of our games.
When do you think NBA players and the coaching staff will start getting the vaccine? We’re not jumping the line. We understand that the vaccine is rolling out in such a way that you’re trying to get to the people who are most at risk or most vulnerable first, that includes front-line workers like myself working in the ER [emergency room], because we’re around so many people who could have the virus. It includes people who are elderly, living in congregate settings, like nursing homes, or people who have chronic medical conditions. Those people who are at risk of severe complications, hospitalizations or deaths if they were to get COVID, we’re focused on them. After that, we’ll open it up. The vaccine will start to be distributed to others in the community.
We recognize that our basketball players are young and healthy, so they will get vaccinated or have the opportunity to get vaccinated when it’s their turn. So we won’t be jumping the line there. As it relates to some of our coaches and older individuals, some of them are in categories that allow them to get vaccinated. But that will bear out the way that the local hospitals, departments of public health, are rolling out the vaccine and setting up the prioritization.
Ira Winderman: Heat injury report for Wednesday vs. visiting Nuggets: Out: Jimmy Butler (protocols) Chris Silva (hip flexor) Meyers Leonard (shoulder) Moe Harkless (thigh) Questionable Avery Bradley (protocols) Tyler Herro (neck) Goran Dragic (groin) Gabe Vincent (ankle)
After lengthy stays in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Mavericks Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell are listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game at Utah and will travel with the team Tuesday to Salt Lake City. Maxi Kleber remains in the protocol and will not travel to Utah.
Although the three returning Mavericks are all listed as questionable, coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday’s practice that he expects that all will get court time on Wednesday and then have their minutes ramped up in ensuing games. “It’s been a long road for these guys,” Carlisle said. “They’ve been through a big process. We’ve just got to get them back into it. There’s going to be a gradual aspect to it. They’re not going to be in game shape overnight, but it’s great having them back on the floor. It’s great having them back in practice. It’s three of our best defenders and most unselfish guys. Having them back in the fold is a big plus.”
Eddie Sefko: Dorian Finney-Smith said he felt like he had a cold while isolated for 14 days in a Denver hotel room. Said he never thought it would be him during what has become a crazy, crazy season. More to come on mavs.com
Dr. Leroy Sims has been on hundreds of Zoom calls since the pandemic hit the United States. Many were of sobering variety. But on Sunday afternoon, the NBA senior vice president of medical affairs led a Zoom call that had special meaning to him as he talked to his grandmother, uncle and other family members and close friends who were mostly African American about why they should take the COVID-19 vaccine. “There was some skepticism,” Sims told The Undefeated in a phone interview on Jan. 22. “They asked, ‘Were Black people included in the clinical trials? How did they really know it worked?’ I used a slide with results and graphs showing treatment vs. placebo. I walked them through the vaccine development process and how this timeline works. It helped knowing that I got vaccinated after having my own hesitation initially, which I shared. I told them that it wasn’t mandatory that I got vaccinated, but my research and reviews helped me make my decision. I said I would recommend it to grandma. That I swayed her helped them too.
When do you think NBA players and the coaching staff will start getting the vaccine? Sims: We’re not jumping the line. We understand that the vaccine is rolling out in such a way that you’re trying to get to the people who are most at risk or most vulnerable first, that includes front-line workers like myself working in the ER [emergency room], because we’re around so many people who could have the virus. It includes people who are elderly, living in congregate settings, like nursing homes, or people who have chronic medical conditions. Those people who are at risk of severe complications, hospitalizations or deaths if they were to get COVID, we’re focused on them. After that, we’ll open it up. The vaccine will start to be distributed to others in the community.
Miami Heat guard Avery Bradley revealed on the Yahoo Sports’ “Posted Up with Chris Haynes Podcast” that he’s been sidelined since Jan. 9 after testing positive for COVID-19 and placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocol. In Monday’s episode, the 6-foot-2 defensive stalwart spoke on numerous topics and specifically about his raw emotions upon receiving the news. "To be honest, I was upset because I come to work and I do the right things, I come to work every single day and do all the protocols to make sure I’m protected so I can protect my family. To come up with the news knowing that I got it at work, I was a little frustrated to be honest,” Bradley said on “Posted Up.” “I was frustrated because I felt like it compromised my family’s safety.”
Andrew Lopez: Sources tell @Adrian Wojnarowski and me that the issue with the postponement in the Spurs-Pelicans game is with a potential coronavirus exposure to a non-team member of the traveling parties of both teams in recent days. The NBA is taking extra precautions with these situations.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The NBA and NBPA are discussing scenarios to still hold an All-Star game in March. One site under discussion is Atlanta, home of Turner Sports. That idea includes providing support for HBCU’s and COVID-19 relief. Story soon on site.