Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the Brooklyn Nets until he is allowed to be a full participant, general manager Sean Marks has said.

The 29-year-old remains unvaccinated against coronavirus and is therefore ineligible to play in home games due to New York City mandates.

Under the city restrictions, people in New York must have at least one coronavirus vaccine to enter indoor arenas such as the Nets' Barclays Center home.

Irving – who would not be paid for missed home games – would have been available for most road games, but the Nets have decided to overlook the seven-time All-Star until he is cleared to play every night.

"Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant," Marks said in a statement on Tuesday. 

"Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability. 

"It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice. 

"Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organisation must pull in the same direction. 

"We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud."

Irving has played just 74 regular season games in two years since joining the Nets, missing long stretches due to injury issues and personal reasons.

Last year, on the same team as high-profile team-mates Kevin Durant and James Harden, Irving scored 26.9 points per game. That dropped to 22.7 points in the playoffs as he was again restricted.

Ben Simmons returned to Philadelphia on Monday and appears set to rejoin the 76ers.

The embattled All-Star showed up at Wells Fargo Center shortly before tip-off of a preseason game between the 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, ESPN reported, adding that team officials were not aware he was en route. 

The report said Simmons took a COVID-19 test in the arena, the first step in following NBA protocols that will allow him to rejoin the team after missing all of training camp and the preseason. 

Earlier Monday, ESPN and The Athletic said Simmons' representatives had been engaged in talks with 76ers management for the past few days and made progress in ending the Australian's holdout. 

Simmons demanded a trade away from Philadelphia following a disappointing Eastern Conference semi-finals loss to the Atlanta Hawks and had not spoken directly to team officials since late August. 

Head coach Doc Rivers spoke to reporters before Monday's game and said the team has always wanted Simmons to return. 

"Listen, we've said from day one what we wanted. We'd love to get him back," Rivers said. "Other than that, honestly, there's nothing to report. Our position hasn't changed at all."

Not long after that, Simons arrived at the arena. 

 

His return not necessarily mean he will be with the team for the long haul, but getting the guard back on the court could make it easier for Philadelphia to trade him. 

Simmons is due to be paid $33million this season and will have three years and $114m remaining on his deal after that. 

Those numbers combined with Simmons' abysmal showing in last season's playoffs have left Philadelphia with minimal leverage in the trade market. 

Across Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Hawks, Simmons averaged just 6.3 points from 4.7 field goal attempts.

The 25-year-old attempted only one shot in the fourth quarter of the final six games of the series against the Hawks, while he passed up a dunk that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter of Game 7. 

His 34.2 per cent free-throw shooting throughout the playoffs was by far the worst rate of any player with 10 attempts or more, while he took just one shot in clutch situations.

In four seasons with the Sixers, Simmons has averaged 15.9 points per game in the regular season, yet he has attempted only 34 shots from three-point range and made just 59.7 per cent from the foul line.

Depending on how quickly details are finalised and he is cleared to play, the earliest Simmons could feature in a game would be Friday's preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons.

The 76ers open the regular season on October 20 against the New Orleans Pelicans. 

Weeks after reports emerged saying Ben Simmons had no future with the Philadelphia 76ers, both sides appear focused on an agreement that would have the All-Star rejoin the team. 

ESPN and The Athletic said on Monday that Simmons' representatives have been engaged in talks with 76ers management for the past few days and made progress in ending the Australian's holdout. 

The situation has improved to the point that ESPN reported Simmons could soon speak directly to team officials, which he has not done since reiterating his trade demands in late August. 

A potential agreement for Simmons to return to head coach Doc Rivers' squad does not necessarily mean he will be with the team for the long haul, but getting the guard back on the court could make it easier for Philadelphia to trade him. 

Simmons is due to be paid $33million this season and will have three years and $114m remaining on his deal after that. 

Those numbers combined with Simmons' abysmal showing in last season's playoffs have left Philadelphia with minimal leverage in the trade market. 

Across Games 5, 6 and 7 of the 76ers' Eastern Conference semi-final series against the Hawks, Simmons averaged just 6.3 points from 4.7 field goal attempts.

The 25-year-old attempted only one shot in the fourth quarter of the final six games of the series against the Hawks, while he passed up a dunk that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter of Game 7. 

His 34.2 per cent free-throw shooting throughout the playoffs was by far the worst rate of any player with 10 attempts or more, while he took just one shot in clutch situations.

In four seasons with the Sixers, Simmons has averaged 15.9 points per game in the regular season, yet he has attempted only 34 shots from three-point range and made just 59.7 per cent from the foul line.

Should the parties come to an agreement quickly, the earliest Simmons could feature in a game would be Friday's preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons.

The 76ers open the regular season on October 20 against the New Orleans Pelicans. 

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has praised LeBron James for his longevity and pushing him to sustain his prime for as long as he can.

Curry and James are set to face off on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season when the Golden State Warriors meet the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

Four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion James enters his 18th NBA season with the Lakers among the favourites for the title.

Despite being 36-years-old, James remains a key part for the Lakers, who won the NBA in 2020, before bowing out in the first round of the 2021 play-offs.

Curry praised 17-time All-Star James for maintaining his high levels throughout an extended period, when the pair have arguably been the league's best players.

"He set the standard for that," Curry told reporters on Friday. "Let's keep it real – in his 18th year, nine straight Finals, all the things that he's accomplished.

"You have a vision of sustaining your prime for as long as you can, kind of re-imagining what that looks like. The work that goes into it, the intentionality, especially in the off-seasons, especially how you take care of your body, your mind. Balance on court, off court."

The Lakers forward had an injury-interrupted 2020-21 season, averaging 25.0 points,7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, having boasted a career-best 10.2 assists per game in the side's title-winning 2019-20 season. He has averaged 25.0 points per game or more since his debut season in 2003-04 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James is four years Curry's senior, with the 2003 NBA Draft first pick having claimed one more NBA title across his career than the Warriors point guard who debuted in 2009.

"For me, it's a weird perspective just because I still remember my college days and he was just coming into his prime in the league," Curry said.

"And my sophomore year, [NCAA] tournament run he came to a game, then came to a game my junior year. I still have a jersey that he signed back in '08 in my parents' house back in Charlotte. So it's kind of weird to think about what's happened in the last 13, 14 years.

"Hopefully there's more chapters of that, playing at that prime. Re-imagining and extending your prime and playing at a high level for a long time looks like."

Curry, who only played five games in the 2019-20 season due to injury, topped the NBA last season for points per game, at 32.0.

The 33-year-old's 32.0 points per game was a career-best return, while he also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

"I love exactly where I'm at," Curry said ahead of the new season. "I'm planning to be ready for opening night.

"Body feels good, mind feels good, shot feels strong. I'm not pacing myself but I'm being smart about how I approach preseason games."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has welcomed reports that Kyrie Irving will be permitted to train at the franchise's facilities despite being unvaccinated and unable to play home games.

Irving will still not be available for home games at the Barclays Center in the 2021-22 NBA season, which starts for the Nets on Tuesday 19 October against the Milwaukee Bucks, under New York's COVID-19 vaccination laws.

The Nets point guard has not been able to join Nets practice this week but according to reports the franchise's HSS Training Center has now been deemed a private office building, enabling him to train there despite his unvaccinated status.

"It’s positive to be able to welcome him back into the building and have him be part of the team," Nash told reporters on Friday.

"I don’t want to comment too much on it firmly until I know what the parameters are but it sounds like it’s positive news."

Nash admitted Irving would need to catch up after his interrupted pre-season but was bullish he would be able to maintain a level of game fitness throughout the season.

"When someone's able to resume full activity on the court they'd still need to meet a level of high intensity, before you'd put them in a game," he said.

"Even if you're not injured, you still have to reach those thresholds. If you are injured, once you are healthy, you have to meet those thresholds as well."

Eighteen former NBA players have been charged over an alleged scheme to defraud the league's health and welfare plan out of nearly $4million.

The Department of Justice announced on Thursday that 19 defendants had been charged after allegedly submitting "fraudulent reimbursement claims for medical services that they never received".

One of the 18 ex-players was Tony Allen, a six-time All-Defensive Team selection who was part of the championship-winning Boston Celtics squad in 2008. His wife was also charged.

Allen's former Celtics team-mate Glen Davis, Shannon Brown – twice a champion with the Los Angeles Lakers – and Melvyn Ely, a title winner in 2007 with the San Antonio Spurs, were also named among the defendants.

FBI assistant director Michael J Driscoll said: "Today we've charged 18 former NBA players and one spouse for their alleged participation in a health care fraud scheme that resulted in nearly $2million in losses to the National Basketball Association's health and welfare benefit plan.

"The health care industry loses tens of billions of dollars a year to fraud. Thanks to the work of our dedicated FBI agents and partners alike, cases like this demonstrate our continued focus in uncovering health care fraud scams that harm both the industry and the consumers of their services."

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: "The defendants' playbook involved fraud and deception. Thanks to the hard work of our law enforcement partners, their alleged scheme has been disrupted and they will have to answer for their flagrant violations of law."

New York City Police Department commissioner Dermot Shea said: "Today's federal indictment represents the NYPD's long-term commitment, working with its law enforcement partners, in making sure those accused of health care related fraud are held accountable. I commend those involved in the investigation, the FBI, and the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District in New York for its work in ensuring there is justice in this case."

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant envisions Kyrie Irving being part of the NBA championship contenders this season but admitted if he misses games his quality will be hard to "duplicate".

Irving has not trained with the Nets in New York this week as part of the city's COVID-19 protocols that only allows players with at least one vaccination shot to practice and play.

Nets star Irving faces missing all of Brooklyn's home matches in the 2021-22 season, which gets underway against reigning champions the Milwaukee Bucks on October 19, if his vaccination status does not change.

The drawn-out situation has created a major distraction for title favourites the Nets, who bowed out to eventual champions the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season.

"I'm envisioning Kyrie being a part of our team," Durant told reporters after Wednesday's practice. "Maybe I'm just naive, but that is just how I feel.

"But I think everybody here has that confidence in themselves, in our group, that if we keep building, we can do something special."

Irving averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game in the 2020-21 season where he played 54 times.

The Nets struggled to find continuity with their big three, Irving, Durant and James Harden, who joined from the Houston Rockets in January, on the court due to injuries but that seemed set to change after injury-free pre-seasons ahead of the new campaign.

"I mean he's a special player so it is going to be hard to duplicate what he brings," former MVP Durant said.

"But professional sports are about the next man up mentality so we are looking forward to guys stepping up and filling in that role as best as they can."

Durant and the Nets have tried to insist the Irving situation is not a distraction, although the 33-year-old forward said he would not get involved in his team-mate's decision-making.

The Golden State Warriors faced a similar situation last week with Andrew Wiggins under the San Francisco city laws, although he opted to get his first vaccination ending the discussion.

"He is dealing with something personal right now and while he is dealing with that, we are going to focus on us here in the gym and keep working," Durant said. "When they are ready to figure that out, he'll figure it out."

Durant added: "I want him a part of this group. He's a special player. We want him a part of this group. But a lot of stuff is out of our control and we will let him figure that out for himself.

"It doesn't mean that I will say that I don't want him on the team. He's a huge part of what we do but guys got to step up in his absence and be who they are and move forward.

"I'm not really trying to get too involved in it. It's far bigger than myself and each one of us individually. This is one man's personal decision on his wellbeing."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said the team will not move practice so Kyrie Irving can bypass the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Irving missed Tuesday's practice due to New York's coronavirus vaccination protocols, with local mandates restricting unvaccinated persons from entering sports arenas, restaurants and other public spaces.

Nets star Irving faces being unable to play home games while losing significant portions of his salary if he is not vaccinated.

Asked if the Nets considered moving training outside of New York, Nash told reporters: "No, this is our home. This is where we're going to practice and we have almost a whole group.

"So that's a positive, and we're just working at getting better every day and focusing on the things we can control."

Addressing the Irving situation, Nash said: "No further update. We support him. We are here for him. Things change. When there's a resolution, we're here for him."

"I'm not really worried about anything," Nash added, with the Nets due to open their season against champions the Milwaukee Bucks on October 19. "We're just trying to work every day.

"We came in today and had a great practice and we'll do the same tomorrow, and that's kind of where I leave it."

Irving was unable to attend the Nets' media day in person in Brooklyn on September 27.

"I know that I'll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team and be there for my growing tribe off the court," Irving said remotely.

"I know the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions. This is the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this. I'm doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart."

In 2020-21, Irving averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game as the Nets lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Irving enjoyed a career-high 50.6 field-goal percentage and joint-career best 92.2 free-throw percentage last season.

Spanish legend Pau Gasol has announced his retirement from basketball at the age of 41.

The former Los Angeles Laker, who returned for a second spell with his first club Barcelona eight months ago, confirmed his decision to call time on his illustrious career a press conference on Tuesday.

Gasol enjoyed an extraordinarily successful NBA career spanning 18 years, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks.

He won two NBA titles and was a six-time NBA All-Star after being named the 2001-02 NBA Rookie of the Year.

"It is a very difficult decision as you can imagine, but it's a decision that I have contemplated well," Gasol said. "It's nice to be able to retire as an active player and not on crutches, to retire having won another title with Barcelona and having played in a fifth Olympics with the national team.

"I remember when I was on the youth team coaches used to say to that the important thing was not to reach the top, but to stay there. I didn't try to stay there, I tried to improve with every game and become the best I could."

Gasol was FIBA Basketball World Cup champion in 2006, won three FIBA EuroBasket titles - earning the MVP award in 2009 and 2015 - and three Olympic medals (two silver and a bronze).

He is Eurobasket's all-time leading scorer with 1183 points in 58 appearances, averaging 19.9 points in seven tournaments.

"The example that Pau has given us all, that leadership even this last year, with humility, with an ability to try things that he had never even done, things that he did not even need because of his great talent," said Spain head coach Sergio Scariolo. "Another stage of respect and the consideration that we can only have towards Pau."

Gasol and his younger brother Marc, 36, announced their international retirement after playing in the Tokyo Olympics.

Pau Gasol said: "I was lucky to be a member of great teams with great team-mates, and some of them are here today.

"We started playing in the backyard of our grandparents' house and having [Marc] as my brother and playing the same sport, trying to be the big brother also in basketball, was always a great motivation for me.

"I'd like to be remembered as a player who gave it his everything, who tried to do the best he could and, at end of the day, being able to play until the age of 41 is not bad at all."

Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry says Anthony Wiggins handled his responsibilities in deciding to get vaccinated ahead of the new NBA season.

Wiggins faced missing all of the Warriors' home games this season, 41 games, due to San Francisco's vaccine mandate having previously refused to get the shot, citing religious reasons.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr confirmed on Sunday that Wiggins had since been vaccinated, opening up his availability.

"Obviously I think it’s great he’s available,” Curry said on Monday after Warriors shootaround. "Whatever process he went through to get to that decision, he’ll be able to speak on that.

"We’re excited to have him. It’s a good sign he’s handling his responsibilities as a part of the team. Whatever the process was is for him to explain."

Wiggins, who was the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft before joining the Warriors from the Minnesota Timberwolves last year, averaged 18.6 points, 2.4 assists and 1.0 blocks per game in his first season with the franchise.

Curry has previously been outspoken about public health during the COVID-19 pandemic but insisted he would not have held any hard feelings towards Wiggins if he opted against the shot.

"I wouldn’t think badly of him had it not turned out that way," Curry said. "I hate that part of the conversation. The fact is, we can have a conversation about it and be respectful.

"There’s no way I would let that affect how I see him as a human being, as far as before this pandemic started versus now. I’m glad he’s available and he’s able to be with us today."

Wiggins and Green both started Monday's preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Andrew Wiggins will be available for all Golden State Warriors games this season having been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Wiggins' vaccination status had been a subject of much controversy in recent days, the former first overall pick facing the prospect of being unable to play in home games for Golden State.

San Francisco is among the major cities that have laws restricting unvaccinated persons from entering sports arenas, restaurants and other public spaces.

That would have meant Wiggins being prevented from featuring in games at the Warriors' Chase Center and forfeiting salary as a result.

The NBA confirmed on Wednesday that players would not be paid should they miss games for a failure to comply with local vaccine mandates.

Wiggins, therefore, risked missing out on a substantial portion of a salary worth over $30million for the 2021-22 season.

But head coach Steve Kerr confirmed on Sunday that Wiggins had elected to get the vaccine.

Wiggins had previously applied for an exemption on religious grounds but saw that request rejected by the NBA.

Veteran Los Angeles Lakers recruit Carmelo Anthony says he is open to any role in the side as he strives for his first career NBA title.

The 37-year-old boasts a decorated CV, including being an NBA All-Star 10 times, but he is confident not being an automatic featured player for the Lakers this season.

Anthony moved from the Portland Trail Blazers to the Lakers over the off-season, having played 69 games last season, starting only three times.

"At this point, man, whatever we need to do, let's do it," Anthony said on Friday at the Lakers' training camp.

"It ain't ... 'I can't sit,' and, 'Oh, I want to start,' 'I want to come off the bench.' Whatever it is, it is.

"I've had experience being a starter for 18, 17 years and had an experience of coming off the bench for one year. It's not something I think about."

Russell Westbrook also joined the Lakers ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season which commences on October 17 for the Lakers against the Golden State Warriors.

There have numerous roster changes for the Lakers, meaning there is uncertainty about how the line-up head coach Frank Vogel deploys for the new season.

"When we spoke before he signed here, I told him that I envisioned a big role on this team," Vogel said.

"I don't know what that's going to look like, whether he's going to start, whether he's going to come off the bench, but that he's going to be a factor for us."

Vogel confirmed Anthony along with Westbrook and LeBron James will all sit out Sunday's pre-season opener against the Brooklyn Nets for rest.

Forward Anthony played a career-low 24.5 minutes per game last season for the Blazers, but had a career second-best three-point percentage of 40.9 per cent.

Anthony averaged 13.4 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 1.5 assists per game last season.

A report Ben Simmons no longer wants to play alongside Joel Embiid and his absence from the Philadelphia 76ers are "borderline disrespectful", according to the All-Star center. 

The 76ers this week began training camp ahead of the new NBA season without Simmons, who is holding out for a trade following the fallout from the team's shock Eastern Conference semifinals elimination at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks last season. 

A report in The Athletic citing anonymous sources on Tuesday claimed Simmons wants to leave because he does not think trying to fit in alongside Embiid is right for his style of play. 

Embiid believes the information has come from his team-mate's camp. While he is frustrated by Simmons holding out, he admitted the 76ers remain a better team when he plays. 

"I saw it. I don't know if it came from him or whatever, but over the past few months stuff has been put out there, looking at the reaction of him not being here. I feel like it's fair to assume it's coming from his agent or his people or whatever," said Embiid when asked about the report. 

"I feel like our teams have always been built around his needs, so it was kind of surprising to see. [Simmons was] The reason we signed Al [Horford]. We got rid of Jimmy [Butler], which I still think was a mistake, [because] he needed the ball in his hands, and that's the decision they made. Like I said, it's surprising. 

"But I'm really focused on the guys that are here. The situation is disappointing, borderline kind of disrespectful to all the guys that are out here fighting for their lives. Some guys rely on the team being successful to stay in the league and make money. Because if you're on a winning team, you're always going to have a spot in the league because you contributed to a winning team.

 

"Obviously we're a better team with him, we're not a better team without him, that's for sure. We still hope he changes his mind, but I owe it to these guys to worry about what we have here. 

"To figure out what's going to happen, that's not my job, I'm not the GM, I'm not an owner, so that's none of my business." 

Simmons only attempted one shot in the fourth quarter of the final six games of the series against the Hawks, while he passed up a layup to tie the game last in the fourth quarter of Game 7. 

Doc Rivers said he did not know whether the 76ers could be champions with Simmons as their point guard, though he has since attempted to backtrack in a bid to convince the Australian to stay in Philadelphia. 

Los Angeles Lakers recruit Russell Westbrook labelled Anthony Davis as "the ultimate weapon" and said it is his job to bring out the best of the eight-time NBA All-Star.

Davis was below his best during the 2020-21 season as the Lakers were dethroned and eliminated in the playoffs in the first round, with injuries forcing the 28-year-old to miss 36 games.

An NBA champion in 2019-20, Davis – the number one draft pick in 2012 – averaged 21.8 points per game last season, which was his lowest return since his second campaign with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013-14, along with a career-low field goal percentage of 49.1.

Defensively, Davis had a career-low season averaging 7.9 rebounds per game and 1.6 blocks per game, but former MVP Westbrook was bullish about maximising his talent in the 2021-22 season.

"[He is] The ultimate weapon," Westbrook told reporters about Davis on Wednesday, having arrived via a trade from the Washington Wizards.

"It's my job to supervise it to the best of my ability to make sure that AD, LeBron [James], whoever is in the pick and roll are put in positions to be successful.

"He's one of a kind. There's nobody like him who can do everything he's able to do at his size.

"My job is to make sure I continue to push him each day, each practice, each game, so he can be at the top of his game each and every night.

"He's been in this league a long time, so he understands how to play the game. He knows what he needs to turn up, and I know now he wants to turn up. So it's my job to make sure that's up every single night."

Davis, who is a four-time All-NBA First Team member and has led the league for blocks on three occasions, said the demanding presence of players like nine-time All-Star Westbrook was good for him.

"I like team-mates who are going to push me," Davis said. "Encouragement -- I don't need encouragement. I want to be pushed.

"I want guys to tell me when I'm messing up. Me and Russ had numerous conversations in this first practice alone about things we can do together as a duo when we're both on the floor."

Davis added that he expects to play center for the Lakers this season, which Westbrook endorsed saying his team-mate can "pretty much do everything" in the role.

NBA players unvaccinated against COVID-19 risk losing salary if they are not able to play in games due to non-compliance with local health protocols.

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass confirmed on Wednesday that players will not be paid should they miss games for that reason, as vaccination status continues to be a thorny issue for some of the league's high-profile stars.

Major cities such as New York and San Francisco have laws that restrict unvaccinated persons from entering sports arenas, restaurants and other public spaces.

That means players such as the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors face being unable to play home games and losing significant portions of their salary.

Players travelling to those areas would also miss out on pay for failing to comply with local mandates.

Both Irving and Wiggins have salaries over $30million for the 2021-22 season.

"Any player who elects not to comply with local vaccination mandates will not be paid for games that he misses," Bass said.

Wiggins this week saw his request for a vaccine exemption on religious grounds rejected by the NBA, having previously said he would not get the vaccine unless he was forced into doing so.

 

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