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New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams puts onus on NBA, Nets’ Kyrie Irving to come to resolution amid unchanged vax mandate

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DETROIT — Mayor-elect Eric Adams said Friday night that New York City will not change its COVID-19 vaccination mandate that currently prevents Kyrie Irving from playing in games there.

Adams, who won the city’s mayoral election Tuesday, put the onus on the NBA and Irving to find a resolution. The current mandate requires the Brooklyn Nets point guard to get at least one vaccination shot in order to play in home games at Barclays Center and road games at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.

“New York City is not going to change their rule,” Adams said in an interview on CNN. “And again, it is up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to a full understanding on how to keep him on the Nets and to continue to look at all of our athletes that are coming here. Again, I think the NBA and Kyrie [are] going to come to a conclusion on this.”

Adams did not elaborate on how the NBA and Irving can find a way for the point guard to play in New York City if he remains unvaccinated since the league is abiding by the city’s COVID-19 protocol.

The Nets played their ninth game of the season without Irving on Friday in Detroit. While he can play in road games in NBA cities that do not have a vaccine mandate, the Nets decided as an organization not to have their starting point guard be with the team as a part-time player until he gets vaccinated or the city’s mandate changes.

Nets owner Joe Tsai recently told ESPN that he is unsure when Irving will rejoin the team due to the mandate.

“I don’t know,” Tsai said in a sit-down interview with ESPN when asked when he thinks Irving will play again. “Either he has to be vaccinated in order to come back if the New York mandate is still in place. And don’t ask me when they may or may not change the New York mandate. Again, if you ask the people that are making decisions at the city level, they are going to say we are going to rely on science, rely on what the health department tells us [in order to proceed].”

“I hope that Kyrie can be part of the team, part of Brooklyn long term. … I think we have an immediate question of whether he can play this season, and I hope he gets vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Adams, who will take office on Jan. 1, was asked about protocols for municipal workers while on CNBC on Wednesday and said the city needs “to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates.” That comment created some optimism that perhaps the mandate could change after Jan. 1, allowing Irving to play even if he remains unvaccinated.

Nets coach Steve Nash was asked if the team would welcome back Irving back if the mandate changes and he is still unvaccinated.

“I might be speaking out of turn,” Nash said Wednesday. “But I think if the mandate changes, he’d be welcomed back for sure.”

Adams said “it is up to Kyrie” to determine whether to get vaccinated.

“That is his determination,” Adams said. “I don’t want to dictate for him, it’s his body, he has to make that determination on what he wants to do.

“I’m a Nets fan … and I love Kyrie. I think he’s a piece that we need for a championship … So I believe that it’s up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to an understanding on how they want to get through this and I believe they can come to a resolution.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo back in Milwaukee Bucks’ lineup for his 27th birthday after 2-game absence

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MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo is celebrating his 27th birthday by returning to the Milwaukee Bucks‘ lineup after a two-game absence.

The two-time MVP is listed among the Bucks’ five starters for their game Monday night with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Antetokounmpo had been listed as questionable due to a sore right calf that knocked him out for the previous two games.

“We’ll see how he feels when he warms up and determine it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Monday before the lineups were released.

The Bucks split the two games Antetokounmpo missed last week.

In their first game without him, the Bucks lost 97-93 at Toronto on Thursday to snap an eight-game winning streak. They rebounded at home two nights later by rolling to a 124-102 victory over Miami.

Antetokounmpo is scoring 27.6 points per game this season to rank second in the NBA, behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant. He’s also averaging 11.8 rebounds and six assists.

Denver’s Nikola Jokić is the only other NBA player averaging at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists this season.

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Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan enters health and safety protocols

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Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets.

DeRozan becomes the third Bulls player currently in the health and safety protocols, joining Coby White and Javonte Green.

DeRozan was recognized earlier in the day as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging 30.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and shooting 58.7% from the field while the Bulls went 3-0 last week with wins against the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets.

DeRozan is fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.4 points per game in his first season with the Bulls.

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Fantasy basketball waiver wire finds

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Working the waiver wire is pivotal to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we’ll need to source stats from free agency to maximize imaginary rosters.

A willingness to entertain competition for the last few spots on your fantasy hoops roster can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of statistical contributors, it helps to consider your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating in free agency.

The goal of this weekly series is to identify players at each position available in free agency in at least a third of ESPN leagues. Some nominations are specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and important statistical offerings. In the breakdowns below, I’ve ordered players at each position with the priority of acquisition in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.


Point Guard

Alec Burks, New York Knicks (Rostered in 27.4% of ESPN leagues): Earning Tom Thibodeau’s trust can prove quite valuable for fantasy value, as the coach is notorious for riding his core playmakers for big minutes. Burks’ recent shift to the starting lineup has fueled 18.8 PPG with strong shooting and steal rates.

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder (44.2%): Due to return to the floor for the Thunder on Monday, Giddey should continue to flirt with triple-double production as one of the lead creators for a young Oklahoma City roster.

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks (36.8%): With at least 15 points in 12 of his last 15 games, Brunson has emerged as a steady complementary scorer for Dallas. Jason Kidd trusts Brunson to commandeer the second unit, and this Villanova product becomes a legit fantasy starter whenever Luka Doncic is sidelined.

Shooting Guard

Kevin Porter Jr., Houston Rockets (61.2%): A thigh injury has sidelined Porter for the past handful of Houston’s games, but the third-year combo guard should return to a rewarding role as the team’s primary creator soon. In a league full of heliocentric playmakers, sourcing assists in fantasy free agency has become more difficult, making Porter an undervalued option.

Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies (36.1%): One of just nine players among the top 40 in 3-point attempts this season sinking at least 40% of his attempts from beyond the arc, Bane sports a 42.1% career clip from deep and is currently enjoying a breakout sophomore season thanks to sizable leaps in minutes and touches this season.

Small Forward

Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors (66.0%): A 3-and-D wing currently found at fifth in total steals and fourth in swipes per game, this larcenous wing is also one of just 33 players to have lofted at least 150 3-pointers entering Sunday’s schedule.

Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (27.4%): It’s possible Tate could prove more valuable as a fantasy option than even Trent among this week’s waiver wings. After all, Tate has been somewhat prolific lately in slashing for 19.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, and 1.5 BPG during his last four games entering Sunday. While his scoring load will dip once Jalen Green and Porter are good to go, Tate’s ability to create for others on offense and create chaos on defense proves reliable.

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (33.8%): You’d think the absence of Ja Morant would inspire a surge in scoring for Brooks, but he’s been somewhat quiet in that department in recent games. A deeper dive reveals Brooks claims a team-high 32.6% usage rate with Morant off the floor this season, evidence Brooks will fill the bucket soon enough.

Power Forward

Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets (47.6%): You’ll need to overlook some quiet scoring outings from Gordon, but increased opportunity rates on a Denver roster in real need should inspire some fun fantasy lines. Such as in Saturday’s win over the Knicks, Gordon wasn’t very effective on offense yet compiled four combined steals and blocks.

Lauri Markkanen, Cleveland Cavaliers (51.4%): Even as the fit is wonky at times in an oversized Cleveland frontcourt, Markkanen enjoys rare shooting freedom as the resident stretch big for the Cavaliers. This role has afforded him at least seven 3-point attempts in six of the last seven outings entering Sunday’s slate.

Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings (37.5%): Will Bagley ever really prove consistently productive with the Kings? That’s unlikely, but a new coaching lens might unlock more minutes and production for Bagley in the coming weeks.

Center

Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks (59.3%): The signing of DeMarcus Cousins in response to the loss of Brook Lopez likely speaks to the team’s potential need for size in the playoffs, but also signals a huge role for Portis for the rest of the regular season. Portis is currently one of just nine NBA players averaging at least 15 points, eight rebounds, and at least 0.8 blocks and 0.8 steals per game. Are these somewhat arbitrary endpoints? Of course, but they also speak to how rare it is to find a player so regularly flirting with double-double production along with respectable defensive rates.

P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets (62.8%): If the league is trending to small-ball lineups, why not fantasy rosters, as well? Washington has thrived recently as the team’s primary stretch center, enjoying more rebounding and rim protection opportunities in addition to proving hot from the arc during the past week.

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