NBA Discusses Plan to Sign Replacement Players Due to Covid Casualties

In the wake of dozens of players being sidelined in the League’s health and safety protocols, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are discussing a plan that would require COVID-decimated teams to sign additional replacement players, sources said. of the league to ESPN.

The broad lines of the plan were approved by the Board of Governors during a meeting on Friday, League sources said. Previously, difficulty rules were left to teams. Some during the pandemic have refused to add replacement players even as COVID has sidelined several of their own.

The League and the NBPA must agree to the plan and those talks are continuing.

In the proposed plan, after the first COVID case, a team would be allowed to add a player for 10 days, League sources said, but after a second, third and fourth case, teams would be required to add a player. 10 days. Teams would be limited to three replacement players, but the new plan would generally require teams to maintain enough depth so that the League is not forced to cancel or postpone games because some teams did not have the eight healthy players required by the League to play a game.

Under the plan, additional replacement players would also not have that respective team’s salary cap or luxury tax, league sources said. For example, the Brooklyn Nets would have been charged an additional $ 500,000 for their luxury tax bill with the Langston Galloway signature.

The same hardship exception rule criteria would exist under the proposed plan: Just because a player tests positive for COVID would not automatically allow a team to sign a replacement player. That team would need to have four players out of the game, either through injury or COVID or some combination of the two, and only 13 healthy players for them to add a replacement player. But once a team had five players out of the game, it would be mandatory for them to sign a replacement player.

As of Friday, 84 total players have entered NBA health and safety protocols this season, including 68 in December. In three of the past four days, there have been double-digit additions of players to the protocol roster, with Friday marking a one-day high of 16, followed by 13 on Tuesday and 11 on Thursday.

Team executives believe the numbers will continue to rise in the coming days and weeks.

In the League, considerable frustration remains among some teams facing outbreaks.

“I know for sure that when we were testing not all teams were testing under the same premise that we were training on,” Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan told reporters this week as his team looks at 10 different players. . entering the protocols. “So it could have had, for some teams, players who were maybe asymptomatic or positive guys who just didn’t feel a lot of symptoms playing. And I think the League is probably looking at those things.”

Several team executives and coaches are eager for protocols to change rapidly to allow asymptomatic players to play games or, essentially, for COVID to be treated in the same way as the flu – only those who feel ill are left out.

That sentiment has been expressed to the NBA, league sources said.

However, within the League office and at the NBPA, there is no willingness to allow asymptomatic players who have tested positive to play in games, the sources said.

Both the NBA and the NBPA are aware, as major medical agencies and infectious disease experts have emphatically stated, that those who are asymptomatic can still transmit COVID.

The NBA and NBPA are also aware that allowing COVID-positive players to play, even if they are asymptomatic, could send a worrying signal to the public, League sources said.

While there may be an appetite among some in the League for asymptomatic players, several team health officials noted that doing so would face the tragedy that has affected the world and the NBA community, with Minnesota star Karl-Anthony Towns losing to her mother and six other family members from COVID.

Team executives and team health officials have privately believed that altering protocols to require daily testing of every vaccinated player and staff member could help stem the current surge, but the NBA and NBPA, according to the guidance from their respective infectious disease experts, so far they have. He argued that such a move would not be so shocking.

Team executives and team health officials have also wondered if protocols could change in such a way as to restrict what those vaccinated can do outside of the team environment, thus reverting to the strict protocols that existed last winter before. vaccines were widely available.

While there is skepticism about the acceptance of teams and players to achieve success In one move, league sources said there is an understanding and acceptance by all parties that difficult steps may be necessary to save the season if the situation turns. becomes severe in the coming weeks, especially as the Omicron variant spreads.

On Thursday, the NBA and the NBPA agreed and informed the teams, via a league memorandum, on updated health and safety protocols focused on increased testing during the holidays along with improved policies regarding testing. masks.

Players and staff will be screened on game days, except those who received their booster shot 14 days prior or recently recovered from the virus.