The NBA can’t force players to be vaccinated, but its new health and safety protocols will make life more difficult for the small percentage who aren’t.
In a memo obtained by Yahoo Sports, non-vaccinated players must undergo daily testing before participating in group activities or interacting with any member of team personnel. Vaccinated players will only have to be tested if they are showing symptoms, are a close contact with someone who tested positive or are otherwise directed by the team’s medical staff or league physician.
The memo hasn’t been finalized and could have small tweaks, but the basics are almost set in stone.
In other words, it’ll be very similar to last season’s restrictive protocols, especially on the road and even when players are home — outside travel to restaurants and lounges were prohibited for most of last season until the rules were lessened toward the end of the season when the vaccine began its rollout.
Vaccinated players will be required to participate in a daily health monitoring process “managed by the team that must allow for the collection, recording, and assessment of any symptoms or COVID-19 exposures.”
Non-fully vaccinated players are expected to remain home with limited exceptions such as grocery shopping or the transport of children to and from school, while also limiting interactions with members outside of the household.
Non-fully vaccinated players will be prohibited from dining in the same space as vaccinated teammates, must maintain social distancing from teammates during team activities and while undergoing treatment, including in the locker room before and after games.
Players are the only members of an organization who aren’t mandated to take the vaccine, as it has to be collectively bargained with the NBPA. It gained no traction in talks this summer, and a little over 90% of players are vaccinated.
Notable players like Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Michael Porter Jr. and Bradley Beal aren’t vaccinated. Irving and Wiggins could miss home games in their markets due to mandates in New York City and San Francisco, respectively.
Those players won’t be paid for home games missed, according to a statement from NBA spokesperson Mike Bass.
“Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” the statement released to reporters stated Wednesday morning.
Head coaches will not be required to wear face masks during games, but players will be required to wear them at team facilities, travel and otherwise as required by local laws.