US basketball

36% of NBA refs in health and safety protocol – report

36% of NBA refs in health and safety protocol – report

MORE CASES. Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers enters the health protocol as the league deals a surge in cases.

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The league's referee crew is being supplemented by officials from the G League as Knicks star Julius Randle and Mavs newcomer Isaiah Thomas also enter the COVID-19 protocol

Nearly 36% – 25 of 70 – of the NBA’s referees are in the league’s health and safety protocol, ESPN reported Thursday, December 30.

The league’s referee crew is being supplemented by officials from the G League, which is on pause through Wednesday. That’s allowing players to sign short-term contracts to fill out depleted rosters and helped to ease the referee shortage.

A few games have been officiated by two referees instead of three.

ESPN said referees are required to be fully vaccinated and have until Wednesday to receive their booster doses. The league also is working with the National Basketball Referees Association to improve travel conditions that could lead to a diminished chance of being exposed to COVID-19, per the report.

Knicks top scorer Randle, Mavs newcomer Thomas enter COVID-19 protocol 

Forward Julius Randle, who carried the depleted New York Knicks through their struggles with COVID-19, entered the NBA health and safety protocol on Thursday, multiple outlets reported.

Randle, 27, leads the Knicks in scoring (19.3 points per game) and rebounds (10.0). He has started all 35 games for the Knicks this season.

The Knicks have three other players remaining in the protocol – center Nerlens Noel, guard Wayne Selden, and forward Jericho Sims. A week ago, seven Knicks were on the list.

Veteran guard Isaiah Thomas was also placed into COVID-19 protocol on Thursday, one day after making his debut with the Dallas Mavericks.

The addition of Thomas raises the number of Dallas players in the protocol to eight.

Star guard Luka Doncic will miss his 10th straight game when the Mavericks visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday. Doncic missed five games with an ankle injury and will be missing his fifth due to being in the COVID-19 protocols.

Thomas was signed to a 10-day contract with Doncic and fellow guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke all in the protocol.

Amid the team outbreak, Randle told reporters on December 20 about the precautions he was taking to stay safe since he has a newborn and a 5-year-old at home.

“Yeah, it’s definitely something I try to be cautious of,” Randle said. “When I’m at home and around my son, I try to be cautious of how I’m interacting with him and touching him and all that different type of stuff. It’s tough.”

Randle is in his third season with New York and eighth NBA season overall after time with the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans. In 481 career games (401 starts), he has averages of 17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists.

He was selected to his first All-Star team in the 2020-2021 season.

The Knicks (17-18) are scheduled to play the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Friday.

Thomas scored 6 points in 13 minutes on Wednesday when the Mavericks dropped a 95-94 decision to the Kings in the first of back-to-back contests in Sacramento.

Dallas is the ninth team for the 32-year-old Thomas, who was a two-time All-Star for the Boston Celtics before a serious hip injury during the 2017 playoffs curtailed his effectiveness.

The other Mavericks in the protocol are Maxi Kleber, Brandon Knight, Boban Marjanovic, and JaQuori McLaughlin. 

76ers’ Doc Rivers, Nuggets’ Michael Malone join other coaches in protocol

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers and Denver Nuggets bench boss Michael Malone entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol on Thursday.

Rivers and Malone join Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers), Billy Donovan (Chicago Bulls), Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns), Chauncey Billups (Portland Trail Blazers), and Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder) as head coaches in the NBA’s protocol.

Sixers guards Tyler Johnson and Myles Powell and assistant coaches Brian Adams and Sam Cassell also entered the protocol on Thursday. They join forward Danny Green on the list for the 76ers, who turned to assistant coach Dan Burke to guide the club in Thursday’s game against the host Brooklyn Nets.

Assistant David Adelman was due to serve as the acting head coach for the Nuggets on Thursday had they played against the visiting Golden State Warriors as scheduled, but the game was postponed when Denver couldn’t field a roster of eight players.

Nuggets guard Bones Hyland and forwards Jeff Green and Zeke Nnaji entered the protocol.

Johnson, 29, has averaged 3.7 points in three games this season for the 76ers.

Powell, 24, has chipped in an average of 1.5 points in two games off the bench for Philadelphia.

Hyland, 21, has played in 24 games on the season for the Nuggets, averaging 8.5 points.

Nnaji, 20, is averaging 6.0 points and 3.0 rebounds over 20 games. Green, a 35-year-old veteran, has played in all 33 games for Denver, averaging 9.6 points and 3.1 rebounds. –