One of the big story lines entering the 2021-22 NBA regular season is which players are vaccinated or not. Any players on the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks or Golden State Warriors would not be allowed to play in home games due to COVID restrictions in New York City and San Francisco without having had at least one COVID vaccine shot. Those restrictions don’t apply to visiting players in those cities.
NBA protocols analyisis | Vaccinated and unvaccinated players?
In New York, to enter any gym — including Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center — individuals need proof of at least one COVID-19 shot; in San Francisco, individuals must be fully vaccinated.
Perhaps the two biggest-name players who would be affected by this are Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving. The NBA and players’ union have agreed that all unvaccinated players would be docked 1/91.6th of their salary for each game they miss.
The Warriors no longer have to worry about Wiggins as he was recently vaccinated. Wiggins applied to the NBA for a religious exemption, but that was declined by the league. While Kerr and the Warriors did not want to go into any specifics about Wiggins’ decision or the type of shot he received, it is thought he got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If Wiggins did indeed get the Johnson & Johnson shot, he wouldn’t be forced to miss any practice or game time prior to the regular season home opener on Oct. 21 against the LA Clippers.
Irving, however, continues to hold out from getting vaccinated and if unable to participate in home games would lose roughly $380,000 per game — which would become more than $15 million if he doesn’t get vaccinated at any point this season. The Nets already have begun practicing but Irving is not allowed to join the team without getting at least one shot. He doesn’t have to be fully vaccinated but only requires a single shot.
Brooklyn’s next practice is Tuesday and the Nets have no clue whether Irving will be there: “I don’t have an update on that,” head coach Steve Nash said. “So I really don’t know.”
Also this week, the Nets have a preseason game Friday night vs Milwaukee on Friday night and the team’s annual Practice in the Park early Saturday afternoon. Brooklyn’s home opener is Oct. 24. Some have called for the Nets to trade Irving, but that seems unlikely. Brooklyn is a +220 favorite to win the NBA title.
Latest On Ben Simmons
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons is not practicing with the team or playing in preseason games as his agent continues to push for a trade. The 76ers did not pay Simmons the $8.25 million — 25% of his contract — that he was owed over the weekend and placed that money into an escrow account. Moving forward, the 76ers will deduct from the account any fines that Simmons accrues as the season progresses. If, or when, Simmons shows up, he will be given the money that is remaining in it.
Superstar Joel Embiid called the situation with Simmons “disappointing” and “borderline kind of disrespectful” to the rest of the team. Embiid also pushed back on Simmons’ reported belief that the Sixers chose to build around their All-NBA big man in a way that does not fit Simmons’ playing style, arguing that the team has always tried to accommodate him.
“I feel like our teams have been built, whether it’s the shooting need or stretch-5 and all that stuff, I feel like [Simmons] always had it here. And we still have it,” Embiid said, before listing all the 3-point shooters on the roster. “… Our teams have always been built around his needs.”
If Daryl Morey thinks the Sixers are a top-4 team in the East without Simmons then what is the motivation to trade him now and not closer to the NBA trade deadline in February? Simmons is under contract through 2024-25, and the 76ers have elected to slow play the trade process with two beliefs — 1) that the marriage is still salvageable, and 2) that there is no trade right now that improves the roster, or at the very least keeps them as an Eastern Conference contender.
Six teams have remained in communication with the 76ers in recent weeks, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Those clubs are the Timberwolves, Pacers, Cavaliers, Pistons, Raptors and Spurs but a deal is not close. Minnesota is rumored to be the most aggressive team, going back to the day Simmons was made available.