Shams Charania: For at least next 2 weeks, NBA players and team staff are essentially entering in-market bubbles: - Home: Remain in residence at all times (except for exercise outside, essential activities, extraordinary circumstance) - Road: Stay in hotel (unless team activity or emergency)
Adrian Wojnarowski: Among protocol changes now agreed upon: NBA players can no longer interact with non-team guests at road hotels, sources tell ESPN. Players were allowed to have guests in rooms, but that is no longer the case.
Adrian Wojnarowski: More changes to protocol, sources tell ESPN: At home, players and team staff must remain at residence except to attend team-related activities at facility orarena, exercise outside, perform essential activities or the occurrence of extraordinary circumstances.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Any person who regularly visits the inside the home of a team staff member or player for professional purposes must undergo Covid testing twice per week, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: New facemask rule: All NBA players must wear masks on the bench at all times, including the locker room, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: For minimum of next two weeks, pre-game meetings in locker rooms are limited to 10 minutes -- with masks on, sources tell ESPN. All other meetings with players and team staff must be on the court, or a larger space that allows for 6-feet of social distancing.
Shams Charania: NBA players are now only allowed to elbow or fist bump when socializing pre- and post-game and maintain six feet of distance, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: League's mandating increased mask wearing for players in games, except for "cool down chairs" arranged at least 12 feet from bench and 6 feet apart. Players can go there immediately after leaving court during game, but must return to regular seat on bench wearing a mask.
Tim Reynolds: The hope is that the new rules about limiting where players go (at home and on the road) are going to only be in place for two weeks, though a source cautions, "that's probably the minimum."
TJ McBride: So it sounds like the GM meeting yesterday was largely just to reinforce protocols while discussing these few extra additions to the protocols. Frankly, it’s not enough and I hope that teams start to step in with more authority to make it clear this season is getting out of hand.
Tom Orsborn: Jakob Poeltl on the vaccine: "My initial instinct is I want to take it. I am assuming if they are available to us, they have done enough research on it and it’s safe. It’s not only for my benefit but for the benefit of everybody else as well."
Tom Orsborn: Jakob Poeltl on talk of NBA announcing even tighter COVID guidelines: "They have got the experts working. I am hoping they are being reasonable and that they are making good decisions. I think all we can really do is trust in them."
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Boston Celtics-Orlando Magic game on Wednesday is expected to be postponed, sources tell ESPN. The game is postponed, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: NBA and NBPA working through a minimum two-week window of protocol tightening that includes: *No hugging or interaction of rival players on court pre and post-game. *Reducing social interactions during games, including tapping hands during free throws.
Marc Stein: The NBA has formally opened a review of videos that appear to show the Nets' Kyrie Irving at a recent party without a mask If Irving misses any games due to what is ruled a protocols violation, he would be subject to a fine of more than $460,000 per game ... 1/72 of his salary
With his team right in the thick of things, Van Gundy, who is 61, is rightfully more concerned about everyone’s health and safety than when they’ll play a game of basketball. Here’s the full quote via Nola.com’s Christian Clark. “First of all, personally, I’m 61 year’s old. This s*** scares me. It scares me. I don’t want to get it. I’m scared of other people getting it too. I just don’t want anyone in our group or anyone else to get it.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources with @Malika_Andrews: As the NBA is expected to begin examining online videos circulating of a maskless Kyrie Irving at a family birthday party, there’s no belief that he will return to the Brooklyn Nets lineup this week.
In the videos -- which began being widely shared Monday night -- a smiling Irving is dancing with his sister Asia on a confetti-covered floor and clapping as she blows out candles. If the video is found to be recent, that behavior could be a breach of the league's coronavirus protocols. The league's COVID-19 guidelines forbid players from going to clubs, bars and lounges. They also ban attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.
Fred Katz: The Wizards have placed two players in health and safety protocols and have canceled today’s practice, they announce.
Marc Stein: The Wizards announce they have canceled today’s practice “out of an abundance of caution” after two of their players entered the league’s and safety protocols
Beal missed one game before getting cleared by negative tests and was back on Monday night against the Phoenix Suns. He poured in 34 points with nine assists and eight rebounds to lead the Wizards to victory. Afterward, he was seen wearing a mask once the final buzzer went off. Lesson learned. "It was weird," Beal said of his time off due to the league's protocol. "Last couple of days, 48 hours, was crazy. Having to stay away from everybody and quarantine with myself the last couple of days. The positive is I've been testing negative, so that's a good thing."
Gerald Bourguet: Monty Williams, asked if he feels safe playing right now: *Deep sigh* *Laugh* Says he feels safe, but the COVID numbers are insane right now
Quinton Mayo: “ I just listen to what the NBA tells me about the protocols and they told me that Brad can play so I’m happy.” - Scott Brooks on Health and Safety protocol in regards to Bradley Beal
The NBA called off two more games because of COVID-related and contact tracing issues on Monday, and a person with knowledge of the situation said the Miami Heat were preparing to be without “at least five" players for the next several days because of possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Miami scheduled a flight from Boston to Philadelphia on Monday night in advance of a game there Tuesday, but was preparing to leave some players behind because of the tracing results, said a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because those details were not publicly released. The identities of those players was not revealed, and it is unclear if other members of the Heat travel party were affected. “Definitely been a unique start to the year,” Heat guard Duncan Robinson said Monday in an appearance on Reddit. “Been different challenges with all the protocols and new norms. I think the general sentiment is that everyone wants to play but also everyone wants to be safe first.”
Marc Stein: Benches, locker rooms and planes -- those are among the areas of prime concern for the NBA, sources say, in combatting COVID-19 More stringent rules and enforcement on masking, limiting in-person meetings and curbing pre- and post-game socializing are all potential measures
Kelly Iko: “We haven’t spoken about it as an organization yet.”— Rockets head coach Stephen Silas on the possibility of a league pause with rising COVID cases.
Marc J. Spears: Hawks:”Out of an abundance of caution & in consultation with state and local health officials, including infectious disease doctors from Emory, that the team will continue to play games at State Farm Arena with limited guests & now target Jan. 26 for the return of ticketed fans.”
Anthony Chiang: Can confirm that the Heat is arranging for players out because of contact tracing to be flown back to Miami on a private plane. Others who are cleared will travel to Philadelphia if enough are eligible to play tomorrow's game.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Among topics for GM call today centered on tightening protocols, sources tell ESPN: Re-examining shootarounds and practice lengths, pre-and-post game socializing on court (for example, hugs), further restrictions on restaurant dining and tighter rules on mask-wearing.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA has set a special Board of Governors meeting for Tuesday, sources tell ESPN.
The Athletic has acquired a copy of the league’s health and safety protocols. The document begins its section on contract tracing by defining “close contact,” which is what contact tracing is generally looking for. Consistent with current CDC guidance, close contacts are defined as any individual who (a) has been within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (i.e., consecutively all at once or in multiple separate time blocks), starting from two days before illness onset for symptomatic individuals, and two days before specimen collection for asymptomatic individuals or (b) had direct contact with infectious secretions or excretions of the infected individual (e.g., being coughed on or bare-handed palm- to-palm handshakes or hugs).
It will likely be months until league-wide vaccinations are possible. Until then, playing- and non-playing personnel alike must navigate an imperfect set of protocols — one Adalja is skeptical could be reformed in a way that fully guarantees safety. “I don’t think you can come up with a one-size-fits-all (answer),” he says. “It’s really gonna depend upon each individual’s circumstances and what their risk tolerance will be, because no activity is going to have zero risk, unless you do it the way they did it before with the bubble.”
Alex Schiffer: Nash said he believes Kyrie Irving was tested for COVID on Sunday. Wasn't sure about today.
Barry Jackson: New Orleans-Mavs,Boston-Chicago postponed. Discussions ongoing with league&union about how to deal with growing problem, per a team source. NBA had opted not to go to 19 player roster instead of 17 (economics in play). Not sure why when MLB smartly agreed to 60 player pool in '20
Kyle Neubeck: The NBA is meeting with the NBAPA today to discuss modifying the league’s health and safety protocols, league says in a press release on postponed games
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA's general managers have a conference call set today to discuss these issues with league today too, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: As one GM tells ESPN in story: "They tell us it'll be better later in the season, but I just hope this doesn't break the league in the next few weeks."
Brian Robb: Safe to assume Celtics do not have the league minimum eight players available to play on Tuesday night due to NBA Health and Safety protocols, which led to this postponement.
Tim Bontemps: With the Celtics already having their game postponed tomorrow, their next scheduled game is at home Wednesday vs Orlando. With @Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Boston doesn't have enough players, that means additional players beyond the seven in the Health & Safety Protocols yesterday are now.
Tim MacMahon: Source confirms that Pelicans-Mavericks game tonight is postponed due to COVID-19 issues, as first reported by @CallieCaplan
Adrian Wojnarowski: Ongoing contact tracing left the Mavericks without the necessary eight available players to play the Pelicans tonight, source tells ESPN.
Shams Charania: The Dallas Mavericks-New Orleans Pelicans game tonight has been postponed, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Silver on Dec. 30 addressed a group of team governors; general managers and presidents; coaches; and NBPA leadership such as Michele Roberts, Kyle Lowry and Dwight Powell. The league office provided additional guidance to these constituents stemming from the advice and notice it received from the top health and medical experts. “January is going to be the worst month,” Silver told the group, according to sources. “We are optimistic about improvements in February … after we get through the darkest days.”
The NBA and its players union have previously-set dates in the near future to discuss updating league protocols, multiple sources said. In the meantime, the games will push on.
Ira Winderman: Heat's Duncan Robinson, on his ongoing Reddit AMA, "I think the general sentiment is that everyone wants to play but also everyone wants to be safe first. The league is obviously doing everything they can to ensure both."
Getting owners on board with another bubble could be challenging. “They don’t want to pay for it,” a high-ranking team executive told SI. Indeed, the cost of the Orlando bubble was in the neighborhood of $180 million. While the majority of teams are not bringing in gate revenue, the appetite for forking over millions to rebuild a secure environment is expected to be minimal.
But these are all unknowns. It’s worth noting that the NBA will have the infrastructure in place for a bubble The league announced this week that the G-League will play its season in a Disney bubble. In February, 18 teams will call Lake Buena Vista, Fla. home for a season that is expected to last around a month. There is also a growing number of team officials who believe, regardless of a bubble, that the NBA should consider a weeklong pause of the season. “It’s f------ crazy right now,” an NBA coach told SI. “Honestly, we go to work every day wondering who is going to be available.”
But the league sees evidence of an even greater risk of infection when the league's shuttered, which is another reason health and medical experts advising the NBA aren't pushing for a stoppage now, sources told ESPN. When players were tested upon returning to team training camps, the NBA saw spikes in positive tests -- including 48 cases on December 2.
Executives and coaches are frustrated that quality of play and preparations have suffered, and competitive balance is being compromised. Teams are struggling for ways to build camaraderie and chemistry when staffs and players are constantly being separated, and rituals once as simple as shoot-arounds became pointless when players sometimes have to wait an hour-to-90 minutes for the return of test results before they are allowed inside the facility.
Nurse’s view was more clear cut: "But I still say this, that until somebody [from the league] is going to the hospital getting really, really sick — I think we're still so unclear about what having the virus even means other than you don't wanna spread it … Even college football or baseball or NFL, I don't recall hearing anyone being taken to the hospital being gravely ill. So, I'm okay playing, we've gotta try the best we can to stay safe, we've gotta try to continue getting through life a little bit and just be as safe as we possibly can.”
Brad Townsend: Poor Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson remain in Denver, I'm told. No indication of when/how they will be able to return to Dallas.
Malika Andrews: Kevin Durant, speaking to reporters for the first time since his health and safety protocols absence, says he was confident he wasn't going to be infected with COVID again (he had it in May) and was able to do cardio and weight training at his home.
Some team executives have privately raised concerns in the turbulent past several days, but commissioner Adam Silver has remained committed to pushing through games with a minimum of eight available players per team and trying to complete as much of the schedule as possible prior to widescale access to vaccinations that could start to bring normalcy back to the league and country.
Tom Orsborn: Asked if Spurs are taking extra precautions with Becky Hammon, Drew Eubanks and a staffer in COVID-19 protocols, Pop replied, "We are doing everything possible. There's not much more we can do." He also said he has not been vaccinated.
Sopan Deb: NEW from NBA spokesman Mike Bass: “We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned this season accordingly. There are no plans to pause the season. We will continue to be guided by our medical experts and our health and safety protocols.”
Brian Mahoney: Michael Malone learned of the Heat-Celtics postponement on his way to game at MSG, where his Nuggets are without Michael Porter Jr. "You are starting to see what is going on in our country directly affect the NBA because we are no longer in that safety net of a bubble," he said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: While the Celtics-Heat game has been postponed tonight, the NBA has no plans to pause the season despite thinning rosters because of COVID-19 protocols in several places.
Chris Mannix: Right now the NBA's plan is to ride this recent rough patch out. The expectation was January could be a tough month, and it has been. Still -- there are a growing number of team officials that are hoping the league pauses the season, even for a week.
Brad Townsend: I'm told that, while the NBA has no plans to pause the season despite today's Boston-Miami game and rising player absences across the league, there most likely will be additional protocols put into place in the coming days -- with the impetus coming from the players association.
Shams Charania: The Boston Celtics-Miami Heat game tonight has been postponed, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. A Heat player has returned an inconclusive test, and team does not have required eight players to proceed with game tonight due to contact tracing.
Alex Schiffer: Nash said he thinks Tyler Johnson is on the same week-long protocol as Durant was in terms of contact tracing. He'll be out the next few games. Said he wants to ramp Durant back up after a week away from the team but still wants to treat things carefully in terms of restrictions.
Shams Charania: Nets’ Kevin Durant is listed available to play today vs. OKC. Kyrie Irving is listed out due to personal reasons.
Mark Murphy: Source confirmed that Tatum's second COVID test came back positive as well, sending Brown, Ojeleye and Green into quarantine.
Fred Katz: Bradley Beal is available to play tomorrow against the Suns, the Wizards say.
TJ McBride: Source: all Nuggets players and staff members with the team returned negative COVID tests — both rapid and regular — this morning. So despite playing Dallas three days ago and Philadelphia last night, Denver’s roster is ready to go.
February 27, 2021 | 9:03 pm EST Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: After missing 10 consecutive games in the league’s health and safety protocol, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday is likely to return to the lineup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.