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NBA COVID tracker: Team-by-team list as Bulls’ Alex Caruso, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer enter protocols



With the omicron variant running rampant, NBA rosters are in flux. Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis and Bulls guard Alex Caruso are among the many players in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. In related news, since Dec. 26, tighter protocols — stricter mask requirements, increased testing — have been in effect. These rules will be in place until Jan. 8. 

Another change: Some players can now clear health and safety protocols and return to play as soon as five days after testing positive, provided that they are asymptomatic, vaccinated and likely not contagious (i.e. their cycle threshold is above 30).

Players to have recently cleared protocols include the Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins, the New York Knicks’ Julius Randle, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. 


Between the tweaked return-to-play policy and the new rule mandating teams to use hardship exceptions when multiple players are in protocols, the NBA is aiming to avoid postponing games. Despite this, the scheduled game between the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets on Dec. 30 was postponed because Denver did not have the required eight players. 

There have been 11 postponements this season, and the NBA announced makeup dates this week. Here’s a list of the games that were pushed back:

  • Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets (Dec. 30)
  • Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs (Dec. 29)
  • Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers (Dec. 23)
  • Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls (Dec. 22)
  • Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets (Dec. 21)
  • Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors (Dec. 20)
  • New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers (Dec. 19)
  • Denver Nuggets at Brooklyn Nets (Dec. 19)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks (Dec. 19)
  • Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors (Dec. 16)
  • Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls (Dec. 14)

Five head coaches are in health and safety protocols: Mike Budenholzer (Milwaukee Bucks), Nate McMillan (Atlanta Hawks), Tyronn Lue (Los Angeles Clippers), Michael Malone (Denver) and Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder).

Seven more coaches — Doc Rivers (Philadelphia), Chauncey Billups (Portland Trail Blazers), Rick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers), Alvin Gentry (Sacramento Kings), Frank Vogel (Los Angeles Lakers), Billy Donovan (Bulls) and Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns) — entered protocols and have since cleared.  

The Raptors played two December home games at 50% capacity and, as of Dec. 31, can allow no more than 1,000 people to enter Scotiabank Arena, per a provincial mandateThe team expects the limit to be in place for the next three weeks, and, as such, are playing in a virtually empty arena.

Below is a regularly updated, team-by-team list of players in health and safety protocols, along with the date (or, in some cases, the approximate date) they entered:

Players in health and safety protocols

Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics

  • Payton Pritchard (Jan. 5)

Charlotte Hornets

  • Vernon Carey Jr. (Jan. 1)

Chicago Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers

Dallas Mavericks

  • Kristaps Porzingis (Jan. 3)
  • Isaiah Thomas (Dec. 30)
  • Boban Marjanovic (Dec. 29)
  • Trey Burke (Dec. 22)

Denver Nuggets

  • Jeff Green (Dec. 30)
  • Zeke Nnaji (Dec. 30)

Houston Rockets

  • Usman Garuba (Jan. 3)
  • Armoni Brooks (Jan. 2)
  • DeJon Jarreau (Dec. 30)

Indiana Pacers

  • Goga Bitadze (Jan. 2)
  • Caris LeVert (Jan. 2)
  • T.J. Warren (Jan. 2)
  • Kelan Martin (Dec. 31)
  • Isaiah Jackson (Dec. 30)

Los Angeles Clippers

  • Luke Kennard (Jan. 1)
  • Ivica Zubac (Dec. 30)

Memphis Grizzlies

  • Xavier Tillman (Dec. 30)
  • John Konchar (Dec. 28)
  • Dillon Brooks (Dec. 26)
  • De’Anthony Melton (Dec. 26)

Miami Heat

  • Marcus Garrett (Dec. 30)
  • Gabe Vincent (Dec. 29)
  • Udonis Haslem (Dec. 28)

Milwaukee Bucks

  • George Hill (Jan. 5)
  • Grayson Allen (Jan. 4)
  • Pat Connaughton (Jan. 4)

New Orleans Pelicans

  • Tomas Satoransky (Jan. 2)

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Isaiah Roby (Jan. 5) 
  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Dec. 27)

Orlando Magic

  • Markelle Fultz (Jan. 1)
  • Robin Lopez (Dec. 30)

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Paul Reed (Jan. 4)
  • Tyrese Maxey (Jan. 3)
  • Matisse Thybulle (Jan. 3)
  • Jaden Springer (Jan. 2)
  • Myles Powell (Dec. 30)

Phoenix Suns

  • Landry Shamet (Jan. 4)
  • Abdel Nader (Dec. 29)

Portland Trail Blazers

Sacramento Kings

  • Chimezie Metu (Jan. 4)
  • Richaun Holmes (Jan. 1)

San Antonio Spurs

  • Doug McDermott (Jan. 1)
  • Lonnie Walker (Jan. 1)
  • Devontae Cacok (Dec. 29)

Toronto Raptors

  • Svi Mykhailiuk (Jan. 4)
  • Yuta Watanabe (Jan. 4)

Utah Jazz

Washington Wizards

  • Tremont Waters (Jan. 3)
  • Anthony Gill (Jan. 2)
  • Brad Wanamaker (Dec. 31)
  • Montrezl Harrell (Dec. 28)

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Draymond Green says Ja Morant reminds him of himself, and his reasoning makes a lot of sense



Arguably the best part of any NBA Draft season is the typhoon of reckless player comps that induce equal parts disgust and laughter. Whether it’s saying a second-round pick has similar traits to Giannis Antetokounmpo or comparing two players because they have a similar, um, skin tone, we tend to see some lazy hot takes when it comes to player comps.

On the surface, it looks like Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green could be guilty of the same indiscretion.

During a recent episode of his podcast, “The Draymond Green Show,” Green was asked which current player reminds him of himself. He began his answer by stating the obvious: There is nobody in the NBA, and maybe nobody who has ever played the game, with a similar skill set, basketball IQ and personality as Draymond Green. He listed all of his qualities, saying that it’s hard to find a player with his unique blend of passing, defense, leadership and IQ. 


“I’m one of one, baby,” Green said. “Ain’t no carbon copies.”

Ultimately he came to a conclusion, but probably not one you’d expect: Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant.

When you first hear it, the comparison seems spurious at best. Morant is a freak athlete and high flier, while Green’s game has always been lower to the ground. Green is one of the best defenders in NBA history, while Morant’s defense is one of his lone weaknesses on the court. Morant scored over 27 points per game last season — Green has never averaged more than 14. Not to mention the difference in size.

Once Green explained himself, however, the rationale became clear.

“I ain’t bowing down to none of y’all. I don’t care what you’ve accomplished before I got here. That has absolutely nothing to do with me. I believe in myself and my abilities and I’m going to show you that. I’m going to lead. I’mma talk to you, and let you know about it while I’m doing it. I’m going to carry others with me. And most importantly, I’m going to do it my way. And all those things that I just named, I see Ja Morant do.”

Green also conceded the obvious dissimilarities in the way they play the game.


“Does that mean Ja Morant and me are the same player? We’re nowhere near the same player,” Green said. “But that’s who reminds me a lot of me.”

Adding to the intrigue of Green’s comparison is the ongoing beef (well, maybe closer to a veggie burger) between the Warriors and Grizzlies during and after their Western Conference semifinal matchup this spring, which Golden State won in six games. Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks said the Warriors are getting old, and Memphis is “coming every single year.” Steph Curry responded by saying that Brooks “called himself a dynasty already,” quickly dismissing that notion. Klay Thompson called Jaren Jackson Jr. a “freaking bum” following the Warriors’ title victory in June, referring to Jackson’s facetious “Strength in Numbers” tweet after a regular-season win over the Warriors.

Morant then entered the mix to defend Jackson, suggesting the Grizzlies had “a lot of real estate” in the Warriors’ minds. Of course, Green couldn’t sit out the verbal sparring entirely, so he responded to Morant with a quick barb about how Golden State had made it to the Finals.

It all seems to be in good fun, and Morant’s reaction to Green’s comparison backs up the idea that there’s nothing but respect between the two franchises. Morant tweeted out, “woo das real shiii,” punctuated with a “100” emoji in response to Green’s comments. Unless I’m not fully updated on the way 23-year-olds communicate these days (which is entirely possible), that seems like a positive reaction.

As much as young stars tend to talk trash as they attempt to claim their place in the league, they generally relish these types of compliments from older players. Green could have easily said, “There’s nobody like me,” and moved on. Instead, he thought about it and realized that, in his mind, Morant plays the game with the same passion, intelligence and fire that has made Green a future Hall of Famer.

Despite the comparison being a bit confusing at first glance, once you get below the surface and look at the rest of the iceberg, it actually makes a lot of sense.


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Halep advances to semi-final at National Bank Open after thrilling victory over Gauff –



TORONTO — Simona Halep didn’t need to check the stats after her match to know the fastest serve Coco Gauff rifled at her during their third-round match, because she checked the video board at Centre Court after the ball was fired her way: It clocked 198 km/hr. 

On Friday afternoon on Centre Court, Halep, the former world No. 1, earned her toughest victory yet at the National Bank Open, fending off Gauff, the 18-year-old American powerhouse, to earn a 6-4, 7-6(2) win in a quarter-final match so full of shot-making and incredible defence that few in the stadium — save for Halep herself, of course — didn’t want it to go three sets.

“She served super strong,” Halep said, after she’d hit the practice court post-match to work on her serve — she had eight double-faults in the win. “And I fought for every point, which it was really important because she’s doing the same thing,” Halep added. “It’s never easy against her.”


A two-time National Bank Open champion, Halep is now into the semi-final, just two wins away from a third title. She’ll face American Jessica Pegula, the No. 7 seed, on Saturday.

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After Halep and Gauff shook hands on Friday, following an hour and 47-minute seesaw battle, fans gave them a standing ovation for the showcase they put on. For many, it was a reminder of how consistent and solid Halep is, and a look into how incredible the teenaged Gauff is, and how good she’ll one day be.

It was the fourth meeting between Gauff, the world No. 11, and Halep, the world No. 15, and it was the closest Gauff has come to beating the veteran Romanian, a two-time Grand Slam champion who won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon a year later.

“She hits stronger,” Halep said, compared to their first meeting, at Wimbledon in 2019. “I think she improved a lot since we played last time. But as I said at the start, it’s always tough against her. And you never know, because she’s fighting until the end. And actually she doesn’t give you a point. So you have to stay there and fight.”

Halep broke Gauff in the first game, but Gauff immediately got the game back on serve, before Halep struck again to go up 4-3, eventually firing an ace to win the opening set.


Set two is when this match entered highlight-reel status. Gauff was down 3-0 early on thanks mostly to unforced errors, and then she began fighting and hitting more winners than not, and with incredible power. Halep, meanwhile, did an incredible job running many of those shots down, even when Gauff was painting the lines.

When Halep broke Gauff to go up 5-3 in the second set, the Romanian roared at the crowd and pumped her fists.

Halep had two chances to serve for the match, but Gauff kept fighting, on the ropes and earning another chance, to force a tiebreaker. That’s when Halep took control, in part because of Gauff’s unforced errors. On match point, Gauff sent a shot into the net, and Halep yelled and pumped her fist while fans waved Romanian flags.

Earlier this season, Halep said she was nearly done with tennis. And then she began working with Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ former coach. “He brought this fire back and the motivation,” she said. “He trusted that I still can play good tennis. And he transferred this to me.” 

Halep’s plan for semi-final Saturday is much the same as it always is, even knowing how solidly Pegula has been playing this season. “But as I always say, I will focus on myself and I will just fight for the match as I did here every time,” she said.  


And, the two-time NBO champion says she’s a different player than the last time she won this tournament four years ago.

“I’m a better player,” she said. “This helps me and gives me confidence to work hard and to look forward for the next tournament. And just to fight for every match I play.”

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Padres Fan Shares Shocking Eric Hosmer Comparison



(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)


The San Diego Padres handed Eric Hosmer a huge eight-year, $144 million contract before the 2018 season.

They probably regretted doing that a year or two into the deal.


He had World Series pedigree after reaching the Fall Classic two years in a row in 2014 and 2015, winning the latter.

However, he was never a truly elite hitter, at least not to the extent that he deserved that kind of pact.

The Padres did it anyway, and only a handful of years after putting ink to paper, they were discussing the possibility of attaching a prospect to Hosmer so any team would take him off their hands.

His career with the Padres ended when the team was able to ship him to the Boston Red Sox on deadline day, a little over a week ago.



WAR Thinks Hosmer Is Barely A Replacement-Level Player

If we look at Hosmer’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) as a Padre, we understand why the team was so eager to get rid of him and his atrocious contract.

Jurickson Profar in 106 games this season: 2.7 fWAR. Eric Hosmer’s entire Padres career (596 games): 0.5 fWAR,” baseball writer Nick Lee tweeted.

Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, is a stat that considers hitting, fielding, and baserunning contributions and results in a single number that evaluates how much a player helps his team in comparison to a “replacement level” player.


A good player usually finishes a season with at least 3 WAR: 5 WAR is star territory, and anything over 6 or 7 WAR means MVP-caliber performance.

In four-and-a-half seasons in San Diego, Hosmer only contributed half a WAR.

His contract was a huge disappointment, and forced the Padres to bring in fellow first baseman Josh Bell at the deadline.

The post Padres Fan Shares Shocking Eric Hosmer Comparison appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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