Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka expects all players on the team to be fully vaccinated by opening night.
The lakers gm is expecting all Los Angeles Lakers players to be fully vaccinated by the opener.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Los Angeles Lakers hope to have all of its talents on stage when the new NBA season begins.
“All of the players who are presently signed on our roster will be considered completely vaccinated on opening night when we face the Golden State Warriors,” Lakers head of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said in a video conference call Thursday. “We appreciate it tremendously.”
While the league will not force players to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes revealed last week, some clubs will be required to follow tighter health and safety procedures than others, depending on their state and county’s health and safety regulations.
According to Pelinka, the Lakers would confer with UCLA Health, a team sponsor, to obtain vaccines for its players.
“I believe we’ll be happy that we won’t have any disruptions due to the vaccinated status of a player or a staff person,” he added, “in cooperation with UCLA and the physicians and individuals inside.”
When asked in May whether he had been vaccinated against coronavirus, Lakers star LeBron James replied it was a “family” issue. Dwight Howard, a free agent who returned to the Lakers this summer, questioned the effectiveness of vaccines on one of his social media profiles last year.
“Do I think vaccines are necessary?” In July 2020, Howard inquired on an Instagram Live video. “No, I don’t think so. That is my own view, but I do not believe it.”
Pelinka did not specify which players had yet to get their vaccines.
As the 2021-22 season approaches, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have been discussing standards for vaccinated vs unvaccinated players. According to ESPN, unvaccinated athletes may be segregated from their vaccinated colleagues during team events, meals, travel, and locker rooms.
The Lakers will conduct an unofficial training camp minicamp in Las Vegas this weekend, arranged by James, and a media day in L.A. on Tuesday, according to sources. The Athletic was the first to report on the minicamp.
After that, the club will have five days of practice before the preseason opener on Oct. 3 against the Brooklyn Nets, followed by the regular season on Oct. 19 at home against the Warriors.
“Obviously, with the direction of the local authorities and the state, we’re very thrilled,” Pelinka said. “But we’re also excited that it seems like Staples Center will be packed with Lakers fans for opening night.”
Staples Center was only permitted to function at a 33 percent capacity when the Lakers faced Golden State in the play-in round in the spring (about 6,000 fans instead of the full 18,997).
As he enters his 19th season, they’ll see a trimmer version of James.
Pelinka said of James, “I think the thing that jumps out is simply his fitness level.” “He’s lost weight. And we all know LeBron studies the greats and incorporates their techniques into his own game, and I believe he’s made the choice to return to this point of his career a little bit slimmer, which I believe will transfer to his explosiveness and speed.”
While James’ jersey number has changed from 23 to 6, he has kept his weight around the 250 pounds he was listed at last season, according to ESPN sources. According to reports, his offseason workouts were geared on building lean muscle rather than losing weight.
This season, James, who will be 37 in December, is one of a slew of Lakers hoping to prolong his peak. Out of the 13 players presently on the roster, nine have 12 or more years of experience, making them the club with the most players with that much experience in league history (the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs and 2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers both had seven players to reach that bar).
Pelinka highlighted the organization’s offseason attempts to strengthen up the medical and training staff, which included replacing head athletic trainer Nina Hsieh with Warriors’ Roger Sancho and adding employees to that area, in order to sustain the aging squad.
“We’re going toward a more personalized approach centered on players,” Pelinka said. “I believe we live in a society where the television we watch is more personalized, and we have more influence in how we build a [rice] bowl or a meal when we go out to eat. I just believe that tailoring our approach to the services we provide to the athlete on the training side is very sensible. As a result, when our staff arrives to camp, it will be a major emphasis.”
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