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NBA to limit unvaccinated player access to teammates, dock pay for missed games

After a day of jousting between the league and players union Tuesday over the possibility of a vaccine mandate, the NBA and NBPA have finalized a set of new protocols for unvaccinated players, ones that will limit their access to teammates who’ve already received COVID-19 shots.

Then, on Wednesday, the league announced that if players fail to meet vaccine requirements laid down by local authorities, they won’t be paid.

Shams Charania had the details early Tuesday evening on the protocols...

Tim Bontemps also laid out what to expect once the season begins...

Late Wednesday morning, the league announced that players from New York and San Francisco teams who decline to be vaccinated will not be paid if they miss home games under the two cities’ regulations. Under those regulations, all team home players must be vaccinated...

While the Knicks are fully vaccinated, Irving and the Warriors Andrew Wiggins are not. Irving would lose in excess of $400,000 a game under the league’s policy.

The obvious intention of the combined moves is to put pressure on the unvaccinated ... without having to resort to a mandate.

The details of the new health protocols for the unvaccinated, as Bontemps reported Tuesday night, are comprehensive and cover large parts of the unvaccinated players’ lives...

Teams have also been instructed to prevent having their seating arrangements for fully unvaccinated players from sitting together.

Unvaccinated players are required to remain at their residence during home games and at the team hotel for road contests. The only exceptions are for team and essential activities, such as buying groceries or taking their children to school. They are not allowed to go to any restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment venues or large indoor gatherings and can only have in-person interactions with non-family members with a “limited number of close personal guests” who have to be tested beforehand.

Bontemps also described the other side of the protocols: how vaccinated players will have a great deal more freedom this season than last...

Vaccinated players, on the other hand, will have far fewer restrictions. For example, all fully vaccinated players, as well as Tier 1 personnel — coaches and anyone else working regularly within 15 feet of players and referees, all of whom have already been mandated to get the vaccine — will not have to undergo daily testing.

Charania reported last week that 90 percent of the league’s approximately 600 players (including two-ways and Exhibit 10s) are fully vaccinated. Among those players who’ve been reported (or self-reported) as unvaccinated are Irving, Wiggins, Bradley Beal, Jonathan Isaac and Josh Richardson.

Neither Bontemps nor Charania provided details on how the league would enforce the rules.

Earlier in the day, amid the fallout from Monday’s Media Day vaccine controversy, the NBA said that it has discussed a league-wide vaccine mandate, similar to those many large and small companies have instituted, but couldn’t get NBPA to agree...

The NBPA responded with a statement...

There was no word Wednesday about Irving’s status. Irving practiced with the Nets at the team’s training camp in San Diego.

“That’s not really something I’m focusing on right now,” Steve Nash Brian Lewis when asked about his level of concern over Irving possibly missing home games. “I’m trying to have a great camp. Things could change day-to-day in so many ways, as we saw last year. Right now, we are just focused on camp.”

Meanwhile, back in New York, the mayor strongly encouraged Irving to “get the shot.”

“I’m a fan of Kyrie. I would just appeal to him – get vaccinated,” Mayor Bill deBlasio said. “Your fans want to see you. We all want you back. Your teammates want you back. Look, there are teams now that are 100% vaccinated. That’s a great example to everybody else.”

Also, a deBlasio spokesman told Dennis Young of the Daily News reports that under city rules, Irving can’t play at Madison Square Garden when the Nets take on the Knicks.

“Home teams have a vaccine requirement when playing in NYC,” Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, wrote Winfield Tuesday. “That applies to the Nets in Barclays, Knicks in MSG and everyone when they play each other.”