NBA may change Christmas game start times

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Tuesday there were “no plans” to suspend the season, even as the number of players entering the league’s coronavirus-related health and safety protocols continues to increase.

Silver, in an interview with ESPN, said the league has looked at several options but doesn’t yet see a reason to stop playing. Until early Tuesday night, at least 84 players from 20 teams – not including some coaches and staff – were believed to be in the protocols, although those numbers tended to change almost hourly. The tally is largely based on what the teams disclosed in their latest injury report.

“Frankly, we’re struggling to figure out what the logic behind a break would be right now,” Silver said. “As we look at these cases that are literally tearing the country apart right now, putting the rest of the world aside, I think we are back to where we kind of knew we were going to be over the past few months – and c is that this virus will not be eradicated and that we will have to learn to live with it. That’s what we’re going through in the league right now.

Silver’s remarks came the same day the 10 NBA teams with games scheduled over Christmas were told by the league that changing some playing schedules is a possibility for the planned five-game slate, if any issues arise. linked to the virus oblige to modify the composition and to create holes in the national television program.

The league has told teams the priority is to fill the ABC windows for Saturday games, which means slots at 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time. 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 12:00 p.m. Eastern and Dallas at Utah at 10:30 p.m. Eastern. Both of these games are set to air on ESPN.

The league called the notion of shifting playing schedules — what can happen if a game is postponed — a contingency plan in the memo distributed to teams involved and obtained by The Associated Press. Decisions on whether to change the weather could come until Friday. Any decision made on Saturday to postpone a Christmas game would not affect the rest of the day’s schedule, the league said.

“There’s no question that these 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 as of Wednesday so far. Some of the teams scheduled to play Saturday have numerous players and coaches currently within league health and safety protocols; the Nets currently have 10 players on that roster, which is the highest known number for any team.

The league allows teams to sign replacement contracts when a player tests positive for the virus, in the hope that such measures can minimize the need for deferrals.

More top NBA players were added to the protocol list on Tuesday. Toronto’s Fred VanVleet is now one of seven players on protocol for the Raptors, but the team – anticipating roster reinforcements – flew to Chicago on Tuesday ahead of a Wednesday game there against the Bulls.

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

Silver told ESPN that a very small number of current league cases involve players or coaches who have gone through the three-hit process — two Pfizer or Moderna hits, then a recall — and those people have been in largely asymptomatic or experiencing no worse than mild symptoms.

“Boosts are very effective,” Silver said, adding that the league and the National Basketball Players Association are trying to significantly increase the league’s 60% boost rate. The NBA said 97% of players are fully vaccinated.

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

The league is also “actively looking” to change some protocols and is in constant contact with other leagues, Silver said, to find out if there are ways to allow asymptomatic players to speak up or at least escape. protocols faster than current rules allow. . It does not appear that a policy change is imminent there.

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

There were a few notable removals from the protocol list on 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 absent, all because of protocols.

“This virus, unfortunately, is not going anywhere,” Silver said.

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