COVID-19 Notes: Hill, Conference Calls, Vaccine, More

We can count Thunder guard George Hill among those who aren’t fans of the new, more restrictive coronavirus protocols that were agreed upon by the NBA and the NBPA this week. Addressing reporters on Tuesday night, Hill questioned the logic behind some of the rule changes, including the limits placed on postgame interactions between players, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes.

“I just don’t understand some of the rules as far as we can sweat 48 minutes with the guy next to us and the team next to us, but we can’t talk to him after the game,” Hill said. “It makes no sense.”

Hill also openly wondered if it makes sense to continue playing the season if such restrictive measures are necessary — and if even those measures can’t guarantee that there won’t be an outbreak of the virus.

“I’m a grown man, so I’m gonna do what I wanna do,” Hill said. “If I wanna go see my family, I’m gonna go see my family. They can’t tell me I have to stay in the room 24/7. If it’s that serious, then maybe we shouldn’t be playing. It’s life. No one’s gonna be able to just cancel their whole life for this game.”

Here’s more on the COVID-19 situation:

  • During the NBA’s meetings with general managers and team owners this week, there was no discussion of suspending the season due to the recent increasing number of positive coronavirus tests, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. As Marc Stein of The New York Times explains, one reason the NBA wants to avoid a pause is that officials think even more players would contract the virus without the league’s health and safety protocols in place.
  • While the NBA has insisted it won’t cut the line for vaccines for its players and staffers, a new idea emerged on Tuesday’s call with team presidents. According to Amick, it was suggested that players could volunteer at public distribution centers and receive the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the public to follow suit. Amick expects the idea to be explored further.
  • The NBA has tweaked its hardship provision to allow teams to apply to replace players who are hit hard by COVID-19 absences in addition to injuries, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. However, there are logistical challenges to bringing in new players, since they require a quarantine period before they’re cleared, so it remains to be seen how many teams will be able to actually take advantage of the rule tweak.
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