The NBA and its players' union have agreed to terms on financial penalties for players who miss home games as a result of violating local COVID-19 vaccine mandates in New York City and San Francisco.
Unvaccinated players on the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors will lose 1/91.6th of their salaries for each home game they miss this season, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks.
The only player known to potentially be in violation of laws mandating vaccination for large indoor events is Kyrie Irving, whose reported anti-vaccination stance kept him from attending the Nets' media day activities. Irving is under contract for $34.9 million this season, and each missed game would cost him $381,181.22.
Should Irving miss all 41 regular-season home games, he would be penalized a total of $15.6 million.
Irving has not explicitly said whether he is vaccinated or not, but his aunt told Rolling Stone that her nephew was morally opposed to the vaccine in the publication's bombshell report on an anti-vaccination contingent within the National Basketball Players Association. Irving is a vice president of the NBPA. He was the only player under guaranteed contract who did not join his teammates in Brooklyn for media day.
Irving has been practicing with the Nets, who opted to hold their training camp in San Diego. The 29-year-old seven-time All-Star did not rule out the possibility of getting vaccinated prior to the start of the season.
"Obviously, I'm not able to be present there today," Irving told reporters on a Zoom conference call last Monday, "but that doesn't mean I'm putting any limits on the future for me being able to join the team."
Irving did not play in Brooklyn's preseason opener against the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday. Nor did many of the stars on the two stacked rosters. The Nets host their first-regular season game on Oct. 24.
More than 95% of players are vaccinated, according to the NBPA, and the Knicks have reported a 100% vaccination rate. Irving and Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins were the only players reportedly in violation of mandates in New York and San Francisco at the start of training camp. The NBA denied Wiggins' request for a religious exemption before announcing last week players would not be paid for violating local laws.
Facing stiff financial penalties, Wiggins received the vaccine, Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters on Sunday. The max-salaried 26-year-old has saved himself $344,753.17 per home game as a result.
In a loophole for local laws, unvaccinated visiting players can play games in New York and San Francisco this season, so long as they continue to return negative COVID-19 tests. Orlando Magic big man Jonathan Isaac and Dallas Mavericks guard Trey Burke have been the most vocal of the few non-vaccinated players.
– – – – – – –