LOS ANGELES – When the curtain comes up for the new NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers expect all of their artists to be on stage.
“On opening night, when we play the Golden State Warriors, all the players currently on our team schedule that night will be considered fully vaccinated,” Lakers basketball president and general manager Rob Pelinka said at a video conference call Thursday. . “We are really grateful for that.”
Although the league will not require players to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as reported last week by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes, some teams will have to follow stricter health and safety protocols than others based on their state and county health and safety requirements.
Pelinka said the Lakers organization will consult with UCLA Health, a team sponsor, to secure the vaccinations for their players.
“I think in collaboration with UCLA and the doctors and people internally we will be grateful that we do not get interruptions caused by the vaccinated status of a player or an employee,” he said.
Lakers star LeBron James was asked in May if he had been vaccinated to prevent coronavirus and said it was a “family” case. LA center Dwight Howard, who returned to the Lakers as a free agent this offseason, questioned the effectiveness of vaccinations last year on one of his social media accounts.
“Do I believe in vaccinations?” Howard asked on an Instagram Live video in July 2020. “No, I do not. That’s my personal opinion, but no, I do not.”
Pelinka did not mention which players have yet to be vaccinated.
The NBA, along with the National Basketball Players Association, has negotiated protocols for vaccinated versus unvaccinated players as the 2021-22 season quickly approaches. Unvaccinated players could be separated from their vaccinated teammates in team functions, meals, travel and locker rooms, sources told ESPN.
The Lakers are opening an unofficial training camp with a minicamp, hosted by James, in Las Vegas this weekend and holding media day back in LA on Tuesday, sources say. News about the minicamp was first reported by The Athletic.
From there, the team will have five days of practice before the start of the preseason on October 3 against the Brooklyn Nets, and the normal season begins about two weeks later, on October 19 at home against the Warriors.
“Obviously, I think we’m incredibly excited about guidance from the local government and the state, but we’m glad it looks like the Staples Center will be filled with Lakers fans for the opening night,” Pelinka said.
When the Lakers hosted the Golden State in the play-in tournament this spring, the Staples Center was only allowed to operate with a capacity of 33% (approximately 6,000 fans instead of the entire 18,999).
They will be witnessing a trimmer version of James as he begins his 19th season.
“I think what stands out is just his fitness level,” Pelinka said of James. “He’s slimmed up. And we all know that LeBron is studying the big ones and he’s adding things to his game, and I think at this stage of his career he’s made a decision to come back a little bit slimmer. and I think it translates into its explosiveness and speed. “
While James lost 17 figures from his uniform and switched from No. 23 to No. 6, he has maintained his weight at around the 250 pounds he was listed last season, sources told ESPN. His offseason regimen was focused on adding lean muscle rather than losing pounds, sources said.
James, who turns 37 in December, is one of a long line of Lakers trying to extend his prime this season. The Lakers have nine players with more than 12 years of experience out of the 13 guys currently signed up for the team list that accounts for the most players in league history with so much experience on a team (2015-16 San Antonio Spurs and 2016-17 Cleveland The Cavaliers both had seven players to reach that bar).
To maintain the aging roster, Pelinka detailed the organization’s off-season efforts to reinforce medical and training staff, which included replacing head athletic trainer Nina Hsieh with Roger Sancho of the Warriors and adding staff to this department.
“We are moving towards a more adapted model around players,” Pelinka said. “I think we live in a world where the television we watch is more adapted, the food we eat when we go out to restaurants, we have more to say about how we create a [rice] toast or how to make a meal. I just think it’s really smart to adapt our approach to what services we put around the player on the training side. So there’s going to be a big focus on that when our staff goes to camp. “