The NBA has warned teams that protocol violations that cause the coronavirus to spread to rival teams and cause schedule derailments could result in “fines, suspensions, adjustments or loss of draft selections and game losses,” according to a memo received from ESPN.
For players violating safety protocols this season, the league warns that the option of in-season quarantine and reduced paychecks are possible options. While the memo does not describe the length of the quarantine, it states that such a player “must be subject to reasonable adjustment to pay for games missed during the period the player is in quarantine and testing for such activity is subjected and / or behavior. “
These threats are a major concern of the front offices as franchises work to understand the severity of running an NBA season during a raging coronavirus pandemic that kills thousands of people in the U.S. every day.
A 158-page health and safety memo shared with the teams on Saturday morning informed teams that the league may “conduct unannounced personal inspections of team facilities” to determine whether organizations are complying with COVID-19 safety protocols .
As companies like Moderna and Pfizer are pursuing a vaccine that can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and distributed to the general public, the NBA explained their approach to administering the vaccine. Once the FDA approves a vaccine and specialists working with the NBA and the players’ union believe it is safe and effective, the league and union will discuss whether their coaches, players and staff need to receive the vaccine.
If the vaccine is not needed by NBA players and staff, additional health and safety restrictions may need to be put in place for those who do not receive the vaccine. For example, people who are not receiving the vaccine may wear masks or need testing more often than those who receive it.
Despite concerns about the risk of infection when teams return to gaming trips, the NBA allows players and staff to leave hotels to dine in these circumstances: al fresco dining, fully privatized rooms in restaurants, or NBA / NBPA-approved restaurants who will meet league criteria. The players had hoped they wouldn’t be taken to their rooms on road trips, and these measures would serve as a compromise. The NBA and NBPA are working to compile a list of at least three approved restaurants in each market.
Without protecting a bubble environment, the NBA is determined to contain potential risks that players and staff would traditionally face in a normal NBA season. At home, players and staff are prohibited from entering bars, lounges or clubs, visiting live entertainment or gaming venues, or attending public gyms, spas, pool areas or large social gatherings larger than 15 people.
Violations include possible disciplinary action by teams or the league, including warnings, training, fines, and suspensions.
In addition, teams could be penalized for failing to comply with regulations and failing to report “potential or actual violations and / or discipline the team has imposed for such violations”. If teams are found to be repeatedly violating the protocols, they may be subject to “enhanced discipline”.
ESPN NBA reporters Malika Andrews, Baxter Holmes and Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.