ESPN: NBA, NBPA Agree on Salary Reduction for Unvaccinated Player Missing Home Games

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 4, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 29: NBA commissioner Adam Silver announces the pick for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2021 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on July 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have reportedly finalized an agreement on salary reductions for players who sit out home games during the 2021-22 season because they don't meet local COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks reported full details of the deal Monday:

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

Reporting with <a href="https://twitter.com/BobbyMarks42?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BobbyMarks42</a>: The NBA and the NBPA have agreed to a reduction in pay of 1/91.6th of a player's salary for each game an unvaccinated player misses in their home market because of local laws. For example, Kyrie Irving would lose roughly $381,000 per game.

Although players won't receive their salary for each missed game, teams aren't going to benefit financially because there won't be any tax savings for vaccine-related absences, per Marks.

The NBA has stopped short of mandating a COVID-19 vaccine in order to play during the upcoming campaign, but the rules and regulations will leave unvaccinated players in a difficult position.

So far, three teams are affected by vaccine mandates in their home cities—the Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks—and the league has proposed several guidelines that would lessen interactions between vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

The NBA suggested separating unvaccinated players in the locker room, making them ride in different sections of a bus or plane and putting them through a far more stringent testing regimen that would potentially include two coronavirus tests on game days, per ESPN's Bontemps and Brian Windhorst.

In addition, unvaccinated players who are deemed a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 would face a mandatory seven-day quarantine, while a vaccinated player would only be ruled out if they test positive for the coronavirus.

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins said last week he was unvaccinated at the time but felt pressure because of the professional downsides of not getting a vaccine.

"Back is definitely against the wall," Wiggins told reporters. "But just going to keep fighting for what I believe, whether it's one thing or another, get the vaccination or not get the vaccination, who knows, like I'm just going to keep fighting for what I believe and what I believe is right. What's right to one person isn't right to the other, you know, vice versa."

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr has since announced Wiggins received the vaccine, making him eligible for the team's home games.

Meanwhile, Nets guard Kyrie Irving has yet to confirm he's received the vaccine despite a plea from team governor Joe Tsai, who discussed the star's potential unavailability with Brian Lewis of the New York Post last week.

"So Kyrie talks about it as a sort of personal choice issue, which I respect. But we all need to not forget that our goal," Tsai said. "What is our goal this year? What's our purpose this year? It's very, very clear: Win a championship. And the championship team needs to have everybody pulling the same direction."

The NBA season is scheduled to tip off Oct. 19 with both the Nets (at the Milwaukee Bucks) and Warriors (at the Los Angeles Lakers) set to play road games.

Barring a change in protocols, the Knicks will host the first game involving a vaccine mandate Oct. 20 when they take on the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden.