NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have sufficient gamers to fly to Los Angeles and play their Christmas showdown in opposition to the Lakers, although Kevin Durant won’t be amongst them.
But information worsened for a lot of different groups within the league Thursday, together with Minnesota, which positioned Karl-Anthony Towns — who beforehand revealed that COVID-19 brought about the dying of seven of his family members, together with his mom — on the well being and security protocols checklist. Towns additionally missed time final season due to a constructive take a look at.
“Can’t catch a … break,” Towns wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, an individual with direct information of the matter stated the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are persevering with discussions on whether or not to change the present protocols about returning to play after a constructive take a look at — one thing that sometimes has taken 10 days or extra typically. The particular person spoke to The Associated Press on situation of anonymity as a result of nothing had been finalized.
Brooklyn coach Steve Nash stated Thursday that James Harden has cleared the protocols, however he stated the Nets don’t count on any of their gamers nonetheless within the protocols to come out in time for the sport. That would come with Durant, the NBA’s main scorer.
Brooklyn planning to play on Saturday was a constructive signal, as was Chicago coach Billy Donovan saying after apply Thursday that the Bulls not have any gamers on the protocols checklist. The Bulls had as many as 10 on that checklist final week, when the league postponed two of their video games consequently.
But the numbers continued rising across the league, with 101 gamers within the protocols as of Thursday evening. The Timberwolves now have seven within the protocols.
“He’s in the best spirits possible,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch stated of Towns. “It’s unfortunate, obviously. It happened right before the holidays, too, so it’ll affect the next couple days for everybody being around him. But he was in the best spirits possible.”
Washington’s Bradley Beal was one other huge identify added to the protocols checklist on Thursday. Beal, who missed out on the prospect to play within the Olympics final yr after testing constructive, stated earlier than this season he was unvaccinated.
Others remaining on the checklist included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Trae Young. All three had been scheduled to be a part of the NBA’s five-game Christmas schedule.
And Detroit stated on Thursday it had added 4 gamers to the protocols, the place they joined rookie Cade Cunningham, the staff’s main scorer.
The Nets have had their final three scheduled video games postponed — among the many NBA’s 9 postponements to date — after a coronavirus outbreak left them with a league-high 10 gamers in protocols. Nash stated Harden, Paul Millsap and Jevon Carter had additionally cleared protocols, although rookies Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr. had since entered.
Teams want a minimal of eight gamers to begin a recreation. Nash stated the Nets have greater than sufficient.
But it’s unclear if they may have one other apply earlier than the sport Saturday. Nash stated it’s solely within the final day that wholesome gamers have been ready to return for particular person exercises.
“It’s tricky,” Nash stated. “We haven’t been able to do a lot, but we do what we can and we’ll continue to just adapt as the rules and mandates come in.”
It is necessary to word that gamers can enter and exit the well being and security protocols checklist rapidly in some instances, some groups don’t launch up to date numbers besides when mandated by league rule, and never everybody on the checklist has examined constructive for COVID-19.
Also necessary: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated earlier this week in an interview with ESPN that positive-testing gamers who’ve acquired booster pictures have a tendency to present, at worst, very gentle signs. The league says 97% of gamers are absolutely vaccinated; the NBPA says 65% are boosted, and it’s a prime precedence of the union to get that quantity a lot increased.
Durant was positioned in protocols final Saturday together with Kyrie Irving, a day after the Nets stated they had been bringing the unvaccinated level guard again to play in highway video games. There’s nonetheless time for Irving to return two adverse assessments 24 hours aside to be cleared, although Nash stated the Nets weren’t anticipating that.
With the Lakers’ Anthony Davis already sidelined with a sprained left knee, Durant’s absence would take away one other famous person from what was anticipated to be one of many marquee video games of the common season when it was scheduled.
The Nets have the most effective document within the Eastern Conference, however Nash stated it is going to be tough to choose up the place they left off after not enjoying for per week.
“We’re one of the few teams around that league that’s had a pause, so to jump back into the rhythm of the league is a difficult task,” he stated. “But we have to approach it with excitement and opportunity, and also not put too much pressure on ourselves to re-enter.”
Along with Durant, starters LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry stay within the protocols, together with Bruce Brown, James Johnson and rookie Day’Ron Sharpe. Nash stated the entire gamers had been experiencing nothing greater than gentle signs.
Teams are being allowed to signal gamers to exchange these sidelined by constructive assessments, and at the least 40 such hardship contracts — which received’t rely in opposition to a staff’s wage cap or luxurious tax numbers — have been executed in the previous few days. Some of the gamers are relative unknowns or new to the league; others, like Boston’s Joe Johnson, Atlanta’s Lance Stephenson and the Lakers’ Isaiah Thomas, have largely been out of the league for years. The 40-year-old Johnson performed on Wednesday, his first NBA recreation since 2018. Stephenson additionally debuted for the Hawks on Wednesday, his first NBA recreation since 2019.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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