NBA “has no plans” to suspend season, Silver tells ESPN
(ASSOCIATED PRESS) – NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Tuesday there were no plans to suspend the season, even as the number of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus continues to increase.
Silver, in an interview with ESPN, said the league had considered several options but did not yet see a reason to stop the game. Until early evening Tuesday, at least 84 players from 20 teams – not counting some coaches and staff – were supposed to be in protocols, although those numbers tended to change almost hourly. The tally is largely based on what the teams disclosed in their most recent injury report.
“Frankly, we’re having a hard time figuring out what the logic would be behind a hiatus right now,” Silver said. “As we take a look at these cases that are literally tearing the country apart right now, putting the rest of the world aside, I think we are right where we kind of knew we were going to be in the last few months – et c is that this virus will not be eradicated and that we will have to learn to live with it. This is what we are currently experiencing in the league.
Silver’s remarks came the same day the league informed all 10 NBA teams with games scheduled for Christmas that shifting certain game times is a possibility for the scheduled five-game roster, though viruses force changes in the composition and create holes in the national television grid.
The league told teams the priority is to fill the ABC windows for Saturday’s games, which means slots at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. EST. For now, those games, in order, would have Boston to Milwaukee, Golden State to Phoenix, and Brooklyn to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The other games on the Christmas schedule are Atlanta in New York at noon EST and Dallas in Utah at 10:30 PM EST. Both of these games are slated to air on ESPN.
The league called the notion of shifting playing hours – what can happen if a game is postponed – a contingency plan in the memo distributed to the teams involved and obtained by the Associated Press. Decisions as to whether shift times are needed could come as late as Friday. Any decision made on Saturday to postpone a Christmas game would not impact the rest of the day’s schedule, the league said.
“There is no question that these five Christmas Day games are important,” said Silver. “But as you know, we play a lot of games every day. “
The NBA has postponed seven games so far this season, but none as of Wednesday at this time. Some of the teams scheduled to play on Saturday currently have many players and coaches in league health and safety protocols; the Nets currently have 10 players on this list, which is the highest number known for any team.
The league allows teams to sign substitutes for tough contracts when a player tests positive for the virus, in the hopes that such moves may minimize the need for postponements.
Other top NBA players were added to the protocol list on Tuesday. Toronto’s Fred VanVleet is now one of seven players in protocols for the Raptors, but the team – anticipating roster reinforcements – flew to Chicago on Tuesday ahead of a Wednesday game against the Bulls .
Also on Tuesday, Atlanta teammates Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela joined a Hawks roster that already included Trae Young, raising questions about their availability for Christmas.
Silver told ESPN that a very small number of current cases in the league involve players or coaches who have gone through the three-shot process – two shots from Pfizer or Moderna, then a recall – and that these people have been largely asymptomatic or experiencing no worse than mild symptoms.
“Boosters are very effective,” said Silver, adding that the league and the National Basketball Players Association were trying to dramatically increase the rate of boosted players in the league. The NBA said 97% of players are fully immunized and the NBPA said Tuesday night that 65% of eligible players are boosted, which they called better than double the national average.
“Today, we are committed to facilitating the delivery of recalls to all eligible players, and the NBPA strongly encourages all of our members to receive a recall as soon as possible,” the union said.
Silver also said that the omicron variant is a “beyond dominance” player in the increase in positive tests in the NBA in recent days, estimating that around “90% of the positive cases we are seeing now are omicron “.
The league “is also actively looking” to change some protocols and is in constant contact with other leagues, Silver said, to see if there are ways to allow asymptomatic players to speak up or at least evade them. protocols faster than current rules allow. . It does not appear that a policy change is imminent there.
“We are comfortable with the protocols we are following at the moment,” said Silver.
There were notable deletions from the protocol list on Tuesday. The Lakers have said Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker will be available to play against Phoenix on Tuesday night. But Lakers coach Frank Vogel and four players remain absent, all because of protocols.
“This virus, unfortunately, is not going anywhere,” Silver said.