National Basketball Players Association

NBPA’s Roberts: Players Who Miss Games Due To Local Vaccine Mandates Shouldn’t Lose Salary

The National Basketball Players Association didn’t sign off on allowing teams to dock players 1/91.6th of their salaries for 2021/22 if they’re unable to play in a game due to a local vaccine mandate, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

The NBA announced last week that unvaccinated players who are ineligible to play in games in New York and San Francisco wouldn’t be paid for the games they miss due to those cities’ local mandates. A follow-up report indicated that the league and the players’ union had agreed on the amount of the fine for such a violation.

However, Roberts tells Bondy that while the NBPA approved that per-game penalty (1/91.6th of a player’s salary) for certain health and safety protocol violations, the union doesn’t believe it should apply to players who miss games solely for being unvaccinated.

“They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked (pay),” Roberts said. “We did not agree. The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see.”

As Roberts explains, the NBPA’s position is that a player shouldn’t be punished for being unvaccinated, since the NBA has no vaccine mandate of its own for its players. The league’s stance, per Roberts, is that the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to assess those penalties without NBPA approval.

“It’s debatable. We’ll see,” Roberts said. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible, but I’m going to say it’s a bridge we’ll cross, if and when we get there. Right now, we’ve agreed that a player breaks protocols, that he can be disciplined to include some taxing of his comp. But not being vaccinated — because it’s not mandatory — in and of itself should not lead to any discipline.”

As far as we know, the only NBA player who is in real danger of being docked salary for missing games due to his vaccination status is Nets guard Kyrie Irving. The local mandates in New York and San Francisco don’t apply to visiting players, and no other Nets, Knicks, or Warriors players have been reported as unvaccinated. An unvaccinated player in another market – such as Wizards guard Bradley Beal – should still be able to play in all 82 games.

[RELATED: Nets Unsure About Plan For Kyrie Irving]

While Irving, Beal, and a handful of other unvaccinated players have been the subject of an outsized number of headlines since training camps began, Roberts reiterated that the vast majority of NBA players are fully vaccinated. She told Kavitha Davidson of The Athletic (Twitter link) that there’s now a 96% vaccination rate among NBA players, noting that vaccinated players have played a role in helping convince some of the holdouts.

“We’re doing better than companies who are mandatory vaccinations because we’re at 95-96%,” Roberts said to Bondy. “100% is still an aspiration.”

And-Ones: Beauchamp, Hayward, Turner, Hands, Silver, Vaccinations

The G League Ignite team has signed MarJon Beauchamp, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Beauchamp, ranked No. 47 on ESPN’s prospect list for the Class of 2020, elected not to sign with a college due to questions about his amateur status. He attended four high schools and most recently a junior college.

“I thought this was the best route I could go,” Beauchamp said. “I’ve been off the radar for a while, but I’m glad to get an opportunity from [G League executives] Rod Strickland and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. … I’m confident that I can be a top pick next year with this platform. “

Beauchamp joins five-star high school recruits Jaden Hardy, Scoot Henderson and Michael Foster on Ignite’s roster, as well as Australian Dyson Daniels, a projected top-20 pick.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Gordon Hayward, Myles Turner and Joel Embiid are expected to fully participate in their training camps, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who offers a number of updates on prominent players that headed into the offseason with injuries. Some others, including Victor Oladipo, have not yet been cleared for camp activities, while Nets stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden are expected to be ready for action when the regular season begins.
  • Jaylen Hands has signed to play in Germany with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Hands most recently played in the Las Vegas summer league with the Cavaliers. The former UCLA standout was a second-round pick in 2019.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offers congratulations to Tamika Tremaglio, who has been named the incoming NBPA executive director, NBA Communications tweets. “We look forward to working with her, NBPA President CJ McCollum and all the players as we continue to build on our strong partnership and grow our game globally,” Silver added. “I also want to thank Michele Roberts for her leadership in navigating one of the most challenging stretches in the NBA’s history and wish her well as she begins a new chapter.”
  • Vaccination rates among players have reached 90 percent, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The numbers have been climbing with the opening of training camps approaching.

Tamika Tremaglio Chosen To Succeed Roberts As NBPA Exec. Director

6:49pm: The NBPA confirms the hiring of Tremaglio in a press release, adding that Roberts will retire at the end of the year.

McCollum said of the new executive director: “Tamika has been by our side for many years, advising us on the best practices and policies needed for our organization to operate more like a successful business. Given Michele’s strong leadership and guidance that have brought us to where we are today, we were looking for a next-generation leader, who has the skills, vision, and credibility to pick up where Michele will leave off and to elevate our Union to even greater heights. Tamika’s well-rounded experience in collective bargaining, staff management, revenue creation, wealth preservation and culture building, undoubtedly will put our players in the best position to succeed.”


6:25pm: Deloitte lawyer Tamika Tremaglio has been chosen as the NBA Players Association’s new executive director, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Substack’s Marc Stein was first to report that Tremaglio had emerged as a leading candidate (Twitter link).

The Players Association has searched for months for a successor to Michele Roberts, who announced this summer she was retiring from her post.

Tremaglio is retiring as the Managing Principal of Deloitte’s Greater Washington practice to become the full-time director of the NBPA, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet. She has familiarity with the role she’ll be taking — she’s been a consultant for the league’s union for the past nine years.

This is the first significant decision made the Players’ Association since Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum became president. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2023/24 and Tremaglio will now take the lead in negotiating the next CBA.

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Sixers, NBPA Executive Director

The structure of Ben Simmons‘ contract may embolden him in his plans to hold out from the Sixers, Marc Stein of Substack writes in his latest newsletter. As Stein explains, Simmons received 25% of his 2021/22 salary on August 1 and will receive another 25% on October 1, meaning he’ll already have earned half of his $33MM salary for the season by the time the preseason starts.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons Adamant About Not Attending Camp, Not Playing For Sixers]

League rules permit the Sixers to assess substantial fines for each game he misses during his holdout (approximately $228K per game), but Stein suggests those fines won’t be docked from Simmons’ pay until November, after the first pay period of the regular season. If Simmons was on a more traditional payment schedule, those fines would be more costly, but it will take a while for them to put a dent into the $16.5MM he’ll already have earned this season.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Don’t expect the Sixers and Simmons to follow the blueprint that Al Horford and the Thunder or John Wall and the Rockets have, according to Stein. While those rebuilding teams were comfortable holding out their veteran players until they found a suitable trade partner, the 76ers continue to try to convince Simmons to report to training camp and have “zero interest” in reaching a mutual agreement to allow the three-time All-Star to remain away from the team, says Stein.
  • According to Stein, many of the teams that have engaged the Sixers in Simmons trade talks – including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings – typically aren’t major players in free agency, and like the idea of securing a young impact player who is under contract for four years. However, most of those teams don’t have stars that would interest Philadelphia, or have made them unavailable in trade negotiations (such as the Wolves with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, or the Kings with De’Aaron Fox).
  • The NBPA has enlisted Chicago-based search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help seek out a new executive director to replace Michele Roberts, according to Stein, who says that “well-placed observers” believe Roberts’ replacement could be an unexpected selection who hasn’t yet been publicly identified.
  • Stein, who previously named Malik Rose as a candidate to become the NBPA’s executive director, suggests Noah Croom, Arne Duncan, Nichole Francis Reynolds, Pat Garrity, and Mark Termini are other viable contenders for the job. Croom and Garrity are veteran team executives, Termini is a longtime player agent, and Duncan and Reynolds work outside of the NBA in education/politics and business, respectively.

CJ McCollum Elected New NBPA President

CJ McCollum is the new president of the National Basketball Players Association, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The Trail Blazers guard replaces Chris Paul, who served two consecutive terms totaling eight years.

McCollum, 29, has served as a vice president on the union’s executive committee for the past three years and has been a strong voice in NBPA decisions as well as negotiations with the NBA, Woj adds.

Grant Williams was elected as vice president, the league announced (via Twitter). Other members of the executive committee will be Andre Iguodala (first vice president), Harrison Barnes (secretary-treasurer) and vice presidents Bismack Biyombo, Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving and Garrett Temple (Twitter link).

“Since entering the league, I have wanted to be involved in the and contribute to the important decisions that impact our lives as players both on and off the court,” Williams tweeted. “I am honored to be selected by my peers for this position and excited to join the NBPA Executive Committee.”

One of the union’s first priorities under McCollum will be to find a replacement for Michele Roberts, who has served as executive director since 2014. She has announced her intentions to step down and is expected to leave her post sometime around the end of the year.

McCollum will also have to take the lead in negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Wojnarowski points out. The current CBA runs through the end of the 2023/24 season, but either the league or the players could decide to opt out after the 2022/23 season ends.

And-Ones: NBPA, V. Baker, Hervey, Okobo, NBA Parity

In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts spoke about why she considers this season a success, what role she plays in the union’s decision-making process, and the criticisms some players, including LeBron James, have vocalized about the shortened offseason heading into this year.

The recommendation to start in December came from the league,” Roberts said. “So the big ask was, could we start the games in December? And the answer was not yes from Michele. The decision to play or not to play comes from the players.”

As far as the criticisms from James, and others who may agree with him, Roberts’ reinforced her support for players voicing dissenting opinions. “I don’t have a problem with players that articulate their opposition to decisions that were made,” she said. “That’s their absolute right. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

We have more news from around the basketball community:

  • Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes about Bucks‘ assistant coach Vin Baker‘s rise as an NBA star, his battles with alcoholism – which included him drinking Bacardi Limón from a water bottle during games – and his eventual recovery and progression back to the world of the NBA. “This was an opportunity that was afforded to me not to screw up,” Baker said. “It’s not about me. Like it’s not about ‘I made it. I’m a coach of the Bucks.’ It’s about there’s somebody watching.”
  • Virtus Bologna has signed Kevin Hervey to a two-year deal, tweets Donatas Urbonas, a Lithuania-based reporter. The deal for the former Thunder second-round pick had been reported to be in the works in recent weeks.
  • Elie Okobo, the 31st pick in the 2018 draft, has signed with ASVEL Basket in France, reports Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Okobo will join former NBA players Norris Cole and Guerschon Yabusele, as well as top 2023 prospect Victor Wembanyama.
  • The “Parity Era” in the NBA may be here, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I see this as, hopefully, the end of a transition for the league,” Reynolds quotes commissioner Adam Silver as saying. “Not just post-COVID, but just by virtue of the teams that we saw in the conference finals, a real transition in terms of the league of the up-and-coming new stars, up-and-coming franchises, more parity throughout the league.” Whether that’s the case or whether injuries played more of a role in the playoffs shaping up the way they did remains to be seen.

COVID-19 Roundup: Silver, Vaccine, Restrictions, Flights, Postponements

The NBA has held discussions about players receiving COVID-19 vaccines in order to influence the general public, and the African-American community in particular, to do the same, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Commissioner Adam Silver hopes the league can set an example and foster the belief that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“Several public health officials — and this is operating state by state right now — have suggested there would be a real public health benefit to getting some very high-profile African Americans vaccinated to demonstrate to the larger community that it is safe and effective,” Silver said.

Right now, NBA athletes are not eligible to receive the vaccines until they become more widely available. It has been suggested that players could volunteer at public distribution centers and receive the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the public to follow suit. Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has said that numerous players are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

We have more COVID-19 related news:

  • There’s been a mixed reaction to the recently-tightened health and safety protocols, according to Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. Some players and coaches are resistant to the notion of having little to no contact with the outside world. Others say they have little choice. “If we don’t accept that that’s the way it has to be, we lose out on a lot of things. Our season, our health, our contracts, everything goes downhill if we don’t play by these rules,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
  • In the same article, Highkin noted that 28 of the NBA’s 30 teams have a partnership with Delta Airlines, which has not mandated that its flight crews get tested for COVID-19 despite lobbying from the league’s medical leadership. Delta crew members must wear masks and can’t come within six feet of any NBA personnel, but several teams still refuse to eat on team planes.
  • The league is determined to continue playing despite a rash of postponements due to virus-related issues, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. An unnamed Western Conference executive told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that resistance to playing in another bubble-like environment made these issues inevitable. “Nobody wanting to go back to a long bubble period of play has put us in this position,” he said. “It is doable but sub-optimal.”

NBA, NBPA Moving Toward Agreement On December 22 Start

The NBA’s Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association will hold separate calls on Thursday that are expected to culminate in an agreement on a December 22 start date for the 2020/21 regular season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic previously reported, the NBPA is expected to vote before the end of the week on the league’s December 22 proposal. Wojnarowski and Lowe say that vote will likely take place on Thursday night and that everything is progressing toward a deal between the NBA and the players’ union.

Per Woj and Lowe, the union is holding team conference calls prior to Thursday night – including several today – to provide details on the plan for 2020/21, including how the salary escrow will work going forward.

As Charania reported on Wednesday and as ESPN’s duo confirms, rather than holding a significant percentage (25-40%) of players’ salaries in escrow for ’20/21, the modified escrow figure is expected to be around 18% and will be applied to multiple seasons, smoothing out the losses for players.

Since the NBA and its players split revenue roughly 50/50 and the league is projecting a significant revenue decline for ’20/21, increasing the salary escrow is necessary to account for the losses from the players’ side.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), an 18% escrow for next season would withhold about $720MM from the players, not counting the reduced pay based on a 72-game schedule instead of an 82-game slate. The league and the union are still negotiating that 18% figure though, Woj and Lowe note.

Once the NBA and NBPA reach an agreement on the salary cap, escrow, season start date, and all the other major aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that need to be tweaked, the transaction moratorium can be lifted and dates for free agency can officially be set.

As Charania detailed on Wednesday, a 72-game season that starts on December 22 is expected to end around mid-May, with the Finals finishing around July 22, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. The NBA is planning for a 25% reduction in travel, with a six-day All-Star break in early March. Training camps would open on or around December 1.

A number of players had been advocating for a later opening night, given how long the 2019/20 season ran, and January 18 was the other start date being considered. However, as Lakers forward Jared Dudley explained today during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Frank Isola (audio link), the NBA’s proposal of a December 22 start date and 72-game season is the only option that makes financial sense for players.

“We’ll vote on it, but to be honest with you, there’s no real vote. No one’s playing 55 games. We’ve got to play 72,” Dudley said. “It’s the money thing.”

The NBA has estimated that starting the season before Christmas will save upwards of $500MM to $1 billion in future revenue, per ESPN and other outlets.

Substantial Faction Of Players Pushing For Season To Start In January

A “substantial faction” of NBA players – including some stars – are pushing for the 2020/21 regular season to begin on Martin Luther King Day (January 18), rather than on December 22, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

As Haynes details, these players would also like to see free agency begin on December 1. Under the league’s current proposal, December 1 has been cited as a possible start date for training camps, with free agency expected to open as early as two or three days after the November 18 draft.

[RELATED: NBA Targeting December 22 Start, 72-Game Season]

Based on Haynes’ report, it’s not clear how many players are in favor of pushing the start date for the season back to January or which players are leading the charge. But it’s probably safe to assume that those who are advocating most strongly for a delay are members of teams that made playoff runs at Walt Disney World this summer. Presumably those players who have been off since March would welcome an earlier start.

When word broke on Friday that the NBA had changed course on its plans for the 2020/21 season and wanted to schedule opening night for December 22, financial reasons were cited as a major motivating factor. One report suggested that starting the season before Christmas could save the NBA $500MM in revenues that might otherwise be lost.

Saving the league’s December 25 showcase would benefit the league financially; so would playing the postseason in the spring and summer rather than going up against the start of the NFL season, as the league did this year. The NBA has also proposed a 72-game schedule, which would satisfy the criteria for teams’ local television contracts.

The National Basketball Players Association has to sign off on any proposal from the NBA, so if there’s a significant faction of players pushing for a January 18 start, they’ll have some leverage. However, if the league’s financial projections are accurate, there will likely be another significant faction of players who will favor the December 22 start. NBPA leadership will have to try to negotiate some sort of consensus among its members.

NBA, NBPA Extend CBA Termination Deadline For Third Time

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have once again agreed to extend the deadline that would allow one side to terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement due to COVID-19, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

The decision marks the third of its kind since May, with the new deadline now being October 30. Both sides are in active discussions on what the Collective Bargaining Agreement should include for next season, according to Wojnarowski, who says the possibility of the CBA being terminated remains unlikely.

“Extending is an easy call,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN in August when the sides agreed to extend the deadline for a second time (Twitter link). “If everyone continues to be well-intentioned on how we deal with the economic effects of this virus, we’ll just make the appropriate adjustments and there won’t be a need to terminate the CBA at all.”

Though exact numbers aren’t known, the pandemic has caused significant financial losses for the league this year and beyond. The two sides are discussing a new salary cap for the upcoming campaign based on future financial projections and implications.

It’s unclear when the 2020/21 season could begin, as the league is currently investigating ways to safely bring fans back into arenas for the first time since the pandemic began. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has previously estimated that 40% of the league’s revenue comes from game-night counts.

While the NBA season will occur in some form, a decision also must be reached about the NBA G League. Discussions have been ongoing about how and when the G League could proceed, with several agents telling Hoops Rumors they’ve prioritized placing clients overseas in recent weeks due to the widespread uncertainty.

[RELATED: Uncertainty Surrounds NBA G League’s 2020/21 Season]

The NBA’s current CBA contains a mutual opt-out after the 2022/23 season and extends into the 2023/24 season. The league and union had previously projected a 2020/21 salary cap of $115MM and luxury-tax threshold of $139MM. Some teams fear those numbers could fall by as much as $25-30MM, according to Wojnarowski, though the two sides are expected to reach a compromise to avoid a significant drop.

For fans and officials across the league alike, the importance of the NBA and NBPA configuring a new salary cap mechanism and continuing productive negotiations in the coming weeks is clear.