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Adam Silver worries positive tests may pop NBA ‘bubble’

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As several NBA teams traveled to Florida on Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed concern that potential positive coronavirus cases following quarantine inside the league’s campus setup will reveal “in essence a hole in our bubble.”

In a virtual interview with Fortune Brainstorm Health, Silver said the NBA expects more positive coronavirus cases to pop up as teams arrive to the NBA campus at Walt Disney World resort this week. But once teams arrive, all personnel will be tested and must quarantine for at least two days.

“We won’t be surprised when they first come down to Orlando if we have some additional players test positive,” Silver told Fortune Brainstorm Health. “What would be most concerning is once players enter this campus and then go through our quarantine period, then if they were to test positive or if we were to have any positive tests, we would know we would have an issue.”

“… We would know that there’s in essence a hole in our bubble or that our quarantine or our campus is not working in some way,” Silver added later. “So that would be very concerning.”

Silver said any significant amount of positive cases inside the protected campus could result in a second shutdown of the NBA season. Several teams, including the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings, have closed their practice facilities in the past week due to positive coronavirus cases among their respective travel groups.

“We began testing all our teams roughly two weeks ago and as we reported we had a significant number of positive cases,” Silver said. “I think that is more a representation of what is happening around the country.”

Florida’s Department of Health reported 7,347 additional positive cases on Tuesday. The state’s total is now at 213,794.

Silver said the NBA’s campus, with daily testing and guidance from medical experts, is “as protected as possible from the environment around us.”

“So on paper, and dealing with our experts, this should work,” Silver said. “But we shall see. I’m confident based on the positive cases we are seeing from our players and the general public around the country that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus in part because we are going to be doing daily testing.

“But again, this virus has humbled many, so I am not going to express any higher level of confidence than we are following the protocols, and we hope it works as we designed it.”

Silver reiterated that the league likely will not be forced to shut down again due to one potential positive coronavirus test inside campus. However, a spread could bring the NBA to a halt again.

“I think we do have the ability to trace, of course to try to understand where that positive case came from,” Silver said of any positive cases inside the Walt Disney World campus. “We can actually analyze the virus itself and try to track whether there is more than one case, if it’s in essence the same virus and same genetic variation of the virus that is passed from one player to another or two people have gotten it on the campus independently. So those are all things that we are looking at.

“Certainly if we had any sort of significant spread within our campus, we would be shut down again.”

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Clippers’ Doc Rivers tells Montrezl Harrell to take time needed to grieve grandmother’s death

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Doc Rivers has told LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell to take as much time as he needs following the death of Harrell’s grandmother.

Harrell posted a message titled “I LOVE YOU GRANDMA” on his Instagram story describing just how heartbroken he is. Harrell left the Clippers on July 17 for an excused family emergency.

“From others, I get asked from inside like, when is Trez coming back and my answer’s been the same,” Rivers said before the Clippers played the New Orleans Pelicans. “When he’s ready, he’ll come back. You can’t play if you’re not right mentally and because of the emotional part of it. … His grandmother is very tight with him so all I told him is I love him and take your time. We’ll be ready with open arms when you come.”

On Friday, Harrell posted that he didn’t know when he “will stop crying.”

“I don’t know how to feel right now,” Harrell wrote on Instagram. “I feel lost empty you are my queen, my best friend, my light in all darkness. I never had you leaving my side. I don’t know how I’m do it but I got to find some way but losing you today isn’t going to make any day I wake up easy.”

The Clippers have been without their top two subs in Harrell and Lou Williams. Williams, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, has been in a 10-day quarantine after he left the bubble to tend to an excused family emergency and is out against the Pelicans.

Patrick Beverley also left the bubble for an excused family emergency and returned. After a four-day quarantine, he came off the bench and played on a minutes restriction on Thursday night. Rivers said he will start but still have his minutes limited against New Orleans.

Rivers said making mental health awareness a priority and treating players who might need it is as important as treating a physical injury.

“I think it’s the untapped resource in our league,” Rivers said. “Not only just players, but coaches, too. I don’t know why it’s always been taboo but it has been and we have to do a better job of making it like a sprained ankle where you get treatment just like you do if you injured your knee or something like that.

“I mean, we had three major things happening to our guys and my job then is just forget the coaching part, just to support. We have several therapists on staff, the league has a therapist here full-time and we should all seek it out. It shouldn’t be something that we resist.”

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Victor Oladipo ready to start in Indiana Pacers’ first game at NBA restart

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Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo has finally arrived at a decision.

After thoroughly examining his body through a host of practices plus three scrimmage games, the two-time All-Star will join the squad for the remainder of the NBA restart, according to Pacers coach Nate McMillan.

Indiana will face the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in its first game back in Florida. Oladipo will be in the starting lineup.

Oladipo, 28, initially ruled out a return for the NBA restart while continuing to rehab his quadriceps tendon, then later said there was a “strong possibility” his stance could change, but he remained noncommittal until now.

In three recent scrimmages, Oladipo shot 7-for-19 (37%) from the field while averaging 11.3 points per game, the fourth-best on the team in those contests.

Before the coronavirus pandemic suspended play, he appeared in 13 regular-season games while under a minute restriction. He averaged 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in a career-low 25.9 minutes per game as he tried to work himself back into shape after an extended time off from the injury.

Oladipo said Friday he knows the history of players returning too soon or taking extended time to heal after injuries, such as Grant Hill and Kawhi Leonard, but hasn’t reached out to anyone personally throughout the process.

“I don’t try to look into things I really can’t control. I think everybody and every situation is different. You’ve got to be smart obviously and listen to your body, but most importantly you’ve got to realize that things are different,” Oladipo said. “They were different for me, they were different for Grant, they were different for Kawhi, they were different for everyone, right? So, at the end of the day, this is my situation. Of course, you can learn from everyone else’s, you can try to take things and apply it to whatever situation you’re in, but no one else has had this injury at my age.

“This is very, very rare so right now I’m trying to figure things out just like everybody else had to figure what situation they were in out. Sure, I can ask them for advice, but essentially this is my knee and my body, my leg and I’ve got to listen to how I respond because everyone responds differently.”

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Heat’s Jimmy Butler changes jersey before game for one with name

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Miami Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler had to change jerseys prior to the start of Saturday’s seeding game against the Denver Nuggets because he originally came to the floor with a jersey that had no name on its back.

Officials blew a whistle and Butler walked back to the Heat bench so that he could switch into a jersey that had his last name on the back and the game could begin.

When Butler and the Heat initially traveled into the NBA’s bubble in Orlando last month, he was asked what league-approved social justice message he would wear on the back of his jersey, and he explained that he would like to keep his nameplate empty.

“I have decided not to [wear a message],” Butler said during a video call with reporters at the time. “With that being said, I hope that my last name doesn’t go on there as well. Just because I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose, but for me, I felt like with no message, with no name, it’s going back to, like, who I was. And if I wasn’t who I was today, I’m no different than anybody else of color and want that to be my message in the sense that just because I’m an NBA player, everybody has the same right, no matter what, and that’s how I feel about my people of color.”

Butler was still hopeful throughout the past week that the league would allow him to wear a jersey with no nameplate. When asked about the situation again during a Friday call with reporters, Butler reiterated what he said several times when asked about the situation.

“To be determined,” he said. “To be determined.”

Butler said he appreciated the public way in which players and coaches were coming together in the opening games to shine light on social justice issues.

“In a sense that we get to feel how we want to feel, and we get to express it in our way,” Butler said. “The way that the league, the players, the coaches, are kneeling in unity, and if you decide to stand in unity, it’s what needs to be done. Because the greater good, and the goal that we’re trying to get across, it will be reached. And I’m happy to see everybody in on it.”

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