Perhaps the hottest NBA-wide topic entering Tuesday’s start of training camps is the subject of COVID-19 vaccination.
According to the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, roughly 90% of NBA players are vaccinated. While that is a strong number, circumstances could be problematic for the 10% who so far have chosen not to be vaccinated.
Some NBA markets, notably San Francisco and New York, have passed ordinances that would prevent unvaccinated athletes from participating in indoor activities. Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving are among players who reportedly are not vaccinated.
On Monday, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said the entire Dallas coaching staff is vaccinated and estimated that Mavericks players are in the “90th-percentile” of being vaccinated. Though Kidd declined to be specific, that indicates that one or two of the 20 Mavericks on the training camp roster are not vaccinated.
“We’re working to get to 100-percent for players,” Kidd said, though he also stressed that vaccination is an individual choice.
The NBA has mandated that most team support staff members must be vaccinated. No such mandate exists for the players, however.
“At the end of the day it’s an individual decision,” said center Dwight Powell, who is the Mavericks’ NBPA representative. “We would like everyone to be vaccinated, but it is their choice and everyone has their own function that they’re going to run their decision-making through.”
Powell said several players have approached him about getting information on the pros and cons of vaccination. He said that in each case he has tried to link the player to a neutral (non-NBA) medical expert.
Luka Doncic, who earlier this year said he contracted COVID-19 last offseason, was asked point-blank on Monday whether he is vaccinated.
“I mean, yeah, but I want to keep it private,” he said. “Everybody should have their own choices, what they do.”
Any player who chooses to not get vaccinated faces the real possibility that they won’t be able to play games this season in New York, San Francisco, Toronto and perhaps more NBA markets who have or might pass ordinances.
Right now it’s unclear whether one or multiple Mavericks are unvaccinated and whether that player or players is projected as a starter, rotation or end of bench player.
“We’ve presented the benefits of being vaccinated, for themselves individually and for all of us,” Powell said. “If they make that decision, great. I not, they’re still our teammates. We’re still going to compete. We’re still going to treat them with love and respect and keep it moving.”