The Star Democrat

NBA has ‘no plans’ to pause season, Silver tells ESPN

- BY TIM REYNOLDS

NBA Commission­er Adam Silver said Tuesday that there are “no plans” to pause the season, even as numbers of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols related to the coronaviru­s continues to rise.

Silver, in an interview with ESPN, said the league has examined multiple options but does not yet see a reason to stop play. Through early Tuesday evening, at least 84 players from 20 teams — not including some coaches and staffers — were believed to be in the protocols, though those numbers tend to change almost on an hourly basis. The count is largely based on what teams have disclosed on their most recent injury report.

“Frankly, we’re having trouble coming up with what the logic would be behind pausing right now,” Silver said. “As we look through these cases literally ripping through the country right now, putting aside the rest of the world, I think we’re finding ourselves where we sort of knew we were going to get to for the

past several months — and that is that this virus will not be eradicated and we’re going to have to learn to live with it. That’s what we’re experienci­ng in the league right now.”

Silver’s remarks came on the same day that the 10 NBA teams with games scheduled on Christmas were told by the league that shifting some game times is a possibilit­y for the planned five-game slate, if virus-related issues force changes to the lineup and create holes

in the national television schedule.

The league told the teams the priority is filling the ABC windows for Saturday’s games, which means the slots at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern. For now, those games, in order, would have Boston at Milwaukee, Golden State at Phoenix and Brooklyn at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The other games on the

Christmas schedule are Atlanta at New York at noon Eastern, and Dallas at Utah at 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Both of those games are scheduled to be shown on ESPN.

The league called the notion of shifting game times — which may happen if a game is postponed — a contingenc­y plan in the memo distribute­d to the teams involved and obtained by The Associated Press. Decisions on whether shifting times is needed could come as late as Friday. Any decisions made on Saturday to postpone a Christmas game would not impact the remainder

of the day’s schedule, the league said.

“There’s no doubt those five Christmas Day games are important,” Silver said. “But as you know, we play many games every day.”

The NBA has postponed seven games so far this season, but none fromWednes­day onward yet. Some of the teams scheduled to play on Saturday have numerous players and coaches in the league’s health and safety protocols right now; the Nets currently have 10 players on that list, which is the highest known figure for any team.

The league is allowing teams to sign replacemen­ts to hardship contracts when a player tests positive for the virus, with hopes such moves can minimize the need for

postponeme­nts.

Other top NBA players were being added to the protocols listTuesda­y.Toronto’s FredVanVle­et is now one of seven players in protocols for the Raptors, but the team — anticipati­ng some roster reinforcem­ents — flew to Chicago on Tuesday in anticipati­on of a Wednesday game there against the Bulls.

Also Tuesday, Atlanta teammates Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela joined a Hawks list that already included Trae Young, raising questions about their availabili­ty for Christmas.

Silver told ESPN that a very small number of the league’s current cases involve players or coaches who have gone through the three-shot process — two Pfizer or Moderna

shots, then a booster — and that those people have largely been asymptomat­ic or experienci­ng no worse than mild symptoms.

“Boosters are highly effective,” Silver said, adding that the league and the National Basketball Players Associatio­n are trying to get the league’s 60% rate of boosted players increased significan­tly. The NBA has said 97% of players are fully vaccinated.

Silver also said that the omicron variant is a “beyond dominant” player in the rise of positive tests within the NBA in recent days, estimating that somewhere around “90% of the positive cases we’re seeing right now are omicron.”

The league is also “actively looking” at changing some protocols

and is in constant contact with other leagues, Silver said, about whether there are ways to allow asymptomat­ic players to take the floor or at least escape the protocols more quickly than the current rules allow. It does not appear a change in policy there is imminent.

“We’re comfortabl­e with the protocols we’re following right now,” Silver said.

There were some notable removals from the protocols list Tuesday. The Lakers said Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker would be available to play Tuesday night against Phoenix. But Lakers coach Frank Vogel and four players remain out, all because of protocols.

“This virus, unfortunat­ely, isn’t going anywhere,” Silver said.

 ?? AP PHOTO ?? Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) goes past Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) during the first half of a game Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in Atlanta.
AP PHOTO Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) goes past Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon (50) during the first half of a game Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in Atlanta.

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