Report: NBA Teams Argue That Not All Teams Are Following COVID Protocols as Strictly

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2021

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 2: A detailed view of the 75th NBA anniversary logo on November 2, 2021 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
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As the NBA struggles to cope with the surge in new COVID-19 cases, it may be facing infighting.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes reported Thursday there's a lack of belief every team is united in handling the NBA's health and safety protocols:

"Other teams privately argue that not all teams have followed the protocols as strictly as others, or that not all teams test as often as others. Another GM said that if all teams were united heading into the Orlando bubble last year, the dynamics have now changed: Every team is out for themselves, trying to save their own seasons, fielding subpar ghost teams."

According to Wojnarowski and Holmes, some team executives have pushed for asymptomatic players to be eligible to play, which hasn't been met with any approval from the NBA or NBA Players Association yet.

The league and players union are both concerned about the potential risks to others if asymptomatic players carrying the virus are participating in games. They could spread COVID-19 to other players, coaches, referees or nearby fans.

The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to amend their health and safety protocols to ease the level of testing on vaccinated, asymptomatic players.

Speaking with ESPN's Malika Andrews on Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the possibility of altering the league's protocols toward asymptomatic players. He said that nothing is set just yet but that "we're paying a lot of attention to what other leagues are doing."

In that same interview, Silver ruled out a league-wide pause to allow for teams to get back to full strength:

Malika Andrews @malika_andrews

Commissioner Adam Silver joined NBA Today to talk about COVID in the league as Christmas Day approaches. <br><br>Silver said there are currently no plans to pause the season. <a href="https://t.co/LFIPCCejnQ">pic.twitter.com/LFIPCCejnQ</a>

As much as the NBA is attempting to minimize any disruptions to the 2021-22 season, it is witnessing how much that approach can still cause issues for teams and impact the bottom line.

Christmas Day is one of the biggest occasions on the NBA calendar, and as such it is peppered with a number of marquee matchups. Those games will potentially go ahead without a handful of top stars.

Complex Sports @ComplexSports

Giannis<br>KD<br>Harden <br>Kyrie<br>AD<br>Trae <br>Luka <br><br>Could all potentially miss Christmas Day games. <a href="https://t.co/fkD3bcMp2e">pic.twitter.com/fkD3bcMp2e</a>

Wojnarowski and Holmes laid out the difficulties in getting all 30 franchises to work collectively as well.

The NBA's Walt Disney World Resort bubble was a success because everybody was on the same page. There were some noticeable exceptions, but players and team officials by and large followed the league's strict guidelines in Orlando.

Replicating the bubble to include every team would be a logistical nightmare and ask a lot of those who take part.

"I underestimated mental health," Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George said of playing in the bubble. "I had anxiety. A little bit of depression. Us being locked in here, I just wasn’t there. I just checked out."

But absent that kind of tightly controlled ecosystem, the NBA may struggle to avoid the kind of situations it's presently experiencing.