While NBA coaches, officials, and many league staffers are facing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, players will not be required to get the injection in order to compete next season unless a compromise can be reached in the coming weeks.
With the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) continuing to negotiate COVID-19 protocols, ESPN reported Tuesday that there will be no vaccine mandate for players — a position the union considers a non-starter.
A source familiar with the discussions told DailyMail.com that the NBPA has been very reluctant to agree to any mandate, but stopped short of conceding that the issue settled.
A league spokesperson declined to comment to DailyMail.com, while an NBPA spokesperson has not responded to a request for comment.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s office is continuing to negotiate COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming season with the players’ union, which has reportedly refused any vaccine mandate
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (seated far left) chats with NBPA president Chris Paul (center left), who is seen wearing a mask during a December game
Even without a mandate in place, Knicks, Nets, and Warriors players will still need to get vaccinated due to local laws in New York and San Francisco. Those with medical or religious exemptions would not be required to receive the injection.
About 85 percent of league players are vaccinated, according to the NBA, which has mandates in place for coaches, staff, and most everyone who works directly with the athletes.
Without a firm mandate, the NBA will follow in the footsteps of the NFL by making COVID-19 protocols more rigorous for those who haven’t received the injection.
As the league explained in a memo to teams earlier this month, fully vaccinated NBA players and coaches are not expected to be subject to regular coronavirus testing this season.
Exceptions to that policy will include situations such as a player or coach showing symptoms generally associated with the coronavirus or being exposed to an unvaccinated player who tests positive for COVID-19.
Now-former Warriors teammates Kent Bazemore (left) and Andrew Wiggins (right) have both said they will not get vaccinated
Those who are not fully vaccinated will need to be tested on all days involving practice or travel and likely will be tested twice on game days. They’ll also have to wear masks at team facilities and during travel.
And everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will be expected to submit to an antibody test before the season ‘to better identify individuals with a limited or waning immune response to vaccination,’ the league said.
It is still unclear if players will need to be tested on off days, the league said.
Players, vaccinated or not, who return a positive or inconclusive test result again will be required to isolate immediately. It would likely be for 10 days if those test results are eventually confirmed as positive.
Teams will likely have to arrange seating in almost all situations — travel, meals, meetings, even locker-room setups — to ensure that players who are not fully vaccinated are not seated directly next to another player.
The league has already told teams that anyone working within 15 feet of players, coaches and referees this season must be fully vaccinated. NBA referees who work games will also be fully vaccinated this season.
Training camps begin on September 28.
While several NFL players have vocally opposed the vaccine, NBA players have spoken less about the topic. Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins and Los Angeles Lakers swingman Kent Bazemore both previously told NBC Sports that they would refuse to get injected.
Lakers star LeBron James has sidestepped questions on the vaccine, calling his decision ‘personal.’
Ushers check the vaccination card or a recent COVID-19 test of arriving fans at Staples Center on April 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. It has been over a year since fans have gathered at the Staples Center due to the coronavirus pandemic