As the 2021-22 NBA season draws near, unvaccinated players are running out of time to get their shot(s) before they start facing potential consequences from the league — up to and including being unable to play in certain locations and having their pay reduced.
The league and the players association have come to an agreement that unvaccinated players will lose 1/91.6 of their salary for each game they are forced to miss due to local COVID-19 regulations, according to Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks of ESPN. That number is based on preseason, regular season and potential playoff games. Teams will not get any salary cap relief for potential pay reductions.
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When training camps began, there were a number of notable vaccine holdouts, including Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors. In the past week, however, the league’s vaccination rate has increased, both through pressure from teammates and organizations, and the threat of missing games and losing pay.
Wiggins, who attempted to receive a religious exemption from the vaccine but was denied by the league, recently got vaccinated. The Golden State Warriors play their home games in San Francisco, which currently has a public health mandate barring unvaccinated people from large events. “It’s nice that he’s going to be available,” Steph Curry said on Monday about Wiggins’ decision to get vaccinated. “Whatever process he went through, he’ll be able to speak on.”
The other city that has a COVID-19 mandate barring unvaccinated players from home games is New York City. The New York Knicks are fully vaccinated, while the Nets are still dealing with the Irving situation. He was absent from Media Day, but has been able to participate in training camp because the team is holding it in San Diego. If Irving remains unvaccinated and misses home games, he would lose out on about $380K per game.
Currently, both San Francisco and New York City have exemptions that allow visiting players to participate in games in those arenas even if they are unvaccinated. That means someone like Jonathan Isaac, who has not gotten the vaccine but plays for the Orlando Magic, will be able to play when they travel to those cities. And, because Orlando does not have a COVID-19 mandate at this time, he can also participate in home games. The same would apply to other unvaccinated players who do not play for the Warriors, Knicks or Nets.