The NBA has restrictive protocols in place for unvaccinated players, and the cost for not following local vaccination guidelines just got even greater.
“Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses,” NBA executive vice president of communications Mike Bass said in a statement on Wednesday.
Players on the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors face local COVID-19 mandates in New York City and San Francisco that require them to be vaccinated to play in home games, and two notable players could be in danger of missing action for that reason.
Nets star Kyrie Irving, who did not share his vaccination status with reporters, participated in the Nets’ media day this week through Zoom because of New York City's COVID-19 protocols. New York-resident athletes that practice or play indoors are required to show proof of at least one vaccine shot in accordance with an executive order from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, on the other hand, announced that he is not vaccinated. Chase Center, the Warriors’ home arena, requires entrants to be fully vaccinated in accordance with an order from the City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Health. Wiggins requested a religious exemption from getting the vaccine, but the NBA denied it. At Warriors media day, he said his “back is definitely against the wall” in regards to pressure to get the vaccine.
Irving is entering the third season of a four-year, $136 million deal with the Nets that is set to earn him nearly $35 million this season. Wiggins, meanwhile, is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $147.7 million deal in Golden State that is set to earn him over $31 million in 2021-22. By missing half of the team’s games, the annual paydays for the two players would drop dramatically. It could also force those teams to look elsewhere for players to fill in.
The Knicks announced on Friday that all players, coaches and staff are vaccinated.
Other NBA protocols for unvaccinated players include testing on all days involving practice or travel -- with the potential for multiple tests on game days -- social distancing and having to quarantine if they are deemed close contacts with someone who tests positive for the virus.
Unvaccinated players are allowed to play road games at all 30 NBA arenas in accordance with league and local guidelines. Chase Center will not be enforcing its mandate on unvaccinated visiting players due to “practical limitations” and San Francisco's “fragile economic recovery,” the San Francisco Department of Public Health told SFGATE on Monday.