The NBA might be in a bit of a dead zone right now with training camp is still two weeks away, but a few interesting nuggets have still dripped down the pipeline so far this week, so let’s review!
No Vaccine Mandate for the Players
The NBA has decided to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all league personnel who will be within 15 feet of players, which obviously includes referees, coaches, and front office members. However, while Commissioner Adam Silver has taken that significant precautionary measure, this mandate will not extend to players.
We knew conversations were ongoing with the NBAPA about how to approach player vaccination, but ESPN finally reported that players will not be told to get the shot. According to the same report, the league currently sits around the 85 percent threshold for players, and those 15 percent who have chosen so far not to receive the vaccine will be subject to strict protocols.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA has said that non-fully vaccinated players will have to register one negative test on practice and travel days and two negative tests on game days. Meanwhile, those who are fully vaccinated will not have to undergo regular testing. An NBA memo sent out earlier this month also noted that the non-vaccinated will have to still socially distance and face a mandatory seven-day quarantine if deemed close contact to some with the virus, per ESPN. Those players who are vaccinated can go about their business pretty darn close to normal.
Sources: The NBA has informed teams of set coronavirus testing protocols for players for the 2021-22 season:
– Fully-vaccinated: No regular testing
– Non-fully-vaccinated: One negative test on Practice/Travel day; Two negative tests on Game Day. https://t.co/ASKdCdfD1t
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 14, 2021
A handful of players could receive contract extensions as training camp nears, and the Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon may have jumpstarted that process earlier today. According to Charania, the forward reached a four-year, $92 million deal with his new club.
Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon has agreed to a four-year, $92 million contract extension with the franchise, his agent Calvin Andrews of Klutch Sports told @TheAthletic @Stadium. Deal includes a player option for Gordon on the 2025-26 season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 14, 2021
Denver acquired Gordon at the trade deadline from a selling Orlando Magic team (#ThanksForVucevic) in exchange for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a 2025 first-round pick. The two-time slam dunk loser (sorry, I had to do it) previously requested a trade, and it appeared to be a wise move as he ended up on one of the more competitive teams in the Western Conference. Still just 25 years old, the upside for the athletic power forward remains strong, so inking him to a four-year deal under the $100 million mark feels like it could turn into a solid win for the Nuggets organization.
Gordon may have struggled upon his arrival in Denver (10.2 ppg, 4.7 reb, 2.2 ast), but a full year next to the MVP Nikola Jokic could help him finally experience the breakout for which many have hoped. A strong defender with an inconsistent offensive game, having players like Jokic, Michael Porter Jr., and eventually, Jamal Murray by his side should prove to be a great fit.
Potential Landing Spots for John Wall
Earlier this morning, news dropped that the Houston Rockets will work to find John Wall a new home. The organization drafted new cornerstone Jalen Green with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and they also added a number of other young talents to kick a full-blown rebuild into high gear. Wall would not only potentially limit the experience for backcourt players like Green and Kevin Porter Jr., but he simply does not fit the timeline of this current roster. With that being the case, the plan is for him to remain sidelined until he is on a new team.
Accomplishing this for Houston will be nothing short of difficult. Wall has a terrifying injury history accompanied by an estimated $91 million price tag over the next two seasons. Fortunately, he did look good at times in 2020-21, flashing some of that famous transition play and high-IQ offensive playmaking. There is still a world where he plays important basketball on a contending team, but what winning team is going to take on that combination of salary and risk of injury?
My guess is none … at least right now. We know how unpredictable the NBA can be, but his situation seems very complicated.
The Chicago Bulls have made national headlines this offseason, but they still have not made many fans. Despite being arguably the most significantly improved roster this summer, numerous analysts/sportsbooks/projections have failed to give the team much respect. And, look, considering this unit is built around a player who has yet to gain playoff experience (Zach LaVine), it’s not impossible to see why some folks remain skeptical.
At the same time, it’s not LaVine’s fault he has yet to sniff the postseason. The All-Star has been stuck in a stale organization for years, and he is just now been given a front office who is aggressive enough to add more proven talent. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic might also be two players who have yet to prove strong success in the postseason, but both found themselves in somewhat similar situations over the years. Now, each a member of the most talented starting five they have ever been a part of, the potential to make a lot of noise in the Eastern Conference is there.
Well, that is, if you don’t ask ESPN.
ESPN’s Eastern Conference Projections:
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) September 14, 2021
Again, these rankings just continue a trend of doubt around this new-look team.
ESPN’s Updated Power Rankings Pick Bulls as the 6th-Worst Squad in the Easthttps://t.co/g8bavTnqfl
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 23, 2021
Executives and Scouts Vote DeRozan Deal “Worst Move” of Free Agencyhttps://t.co/DzIUGsgOu4
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 19, 2021
This Early Win Total Projection for the Bulls is … Extremely Unkindhttps://t.co/RWmhwsRqCr
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) August 12, 2021
Odds and Ends
• You want more polos, quarter-zips, and khakis? You got it! The NBA announced that coaches will, once again, be able to wear more casual attire while on the bench this season.
• ICYMI: In the Bullets this morning, we discussed the new out of bounds rule, as well as the continued march toward a mid-season tournament. Those are two important league notes that you might want to familiarize yourself with.
• It’s Jimmy Butler’s birthday, and Pau Gasol went with a throwback to celebrate.
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) September 14, 2021
— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) September 14, 2021
• Trae Young is still doing Trae Young things, by the way.
Trae Young being ridiculous in his own gym 💦
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) September 14, 2021