Rob Pelinka expects all Los Angeles Lakers players to be fully vaccinated before the opening


LOS ANGELES – When the curtain rises on the new NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers expect all of their performers to be on stage.

“On opening night when we face the Golden State Warriors, all players currently on our roster that night will be considered fully vaccinated,” said the president of basketball operations and general manager of Lakers, Rob Pelinka, on video conference. call Thursday. “We are really grateful for this.”

While the league does not force players to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes reported last week, some teams will have to follow more stringent health and safety protocols than others based on the health and safety requirements of their state and county.

Pelinka said the Lakers’ organization will consult with UCLA Health, a sponsor of the team, to ensure vaccinations for their players.

“I think working with UCLA and the doctors and people inside, we will be grateful if we don’t have any interruptions caused by a player’s or staff member’s immunized status,” a- he declared.

Lakers star LeBron James was asked in May if he had been vaccinated to prevent the coronavirus and said it was a “family” affair. 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 don’t. It’s my personal opinion, but no, I don’t.”

Pelinka has not named the players who have not yet been vaccinated.

The NBA, along with the National Basketball Players Association, have negotiated protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated players as the 2021-22 season approaches. Unvaccinated players could be separated from their vaccinated teammates in team functions, meals, travel and locker rooms, sources told ESPN.

The Lakers will unofficially open a training camp with a minicamp, hosted by James, in Las Vegas this weekend and host LA media day on Tuesday, sources said. News of the minicamp was first reported by The Athletic.

From there, the team will have five days of training before the opener of the preseason on October 3 against the Brooklyn Nets and the regular season will begin about two weeks after that, on October 19 at home against the Warriors.

“I think we’re incredibly excited, obviously, with the guidance from local and state officials, but we’re delighted that it looks like the Staples Center is full of Lakers fans for opening night,” he said. said Pelinka.

When the Lakers hosted Golden State in the spring play-in tournament, the Staples Center was only allowed to operate at 33 percent capacity (roughly 6,000 fans instead of 18,997).

They will witness a thinner version of James as he enters his 19th season.

“I think what stands out is just his level of fitness,” Pelinka said of James. “He’s lost weight. And we all know LeBron studies the big guys, and he’s adding things to his game, and I think at this point in his career he’s made the decision to come back a little slimmer, and I think that’s going to translate into its explosiveness and speed. “

While James dropped 17 digits on his uniform from number 23 to number 6, he kept his weight at around 250 pounds last season, sources told ESPN. His offseason diet focused on adding lean muscle rather than weight loss, sources said.

James, who turns 37 in December, is one of a host of Lakers looking to extend his prime this season. The Lakers have nine players with over 12 years of experience out of the 13 guys currently on the roster, which is the most players in league history with so much experience on a team (Spurs San Antonio 2015-16 and 2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers both had seven players to hit that bar).

In order to maintain the aging roster, Pelinka detailed the organization’s offseason efforts to bolster medical and training staff, including the replacement of head athletic coach Nina Hsieh with Roger Sancho of the Warriors and the addition of staff in this department.

“We are moving towards a more personalized model around the players,” Pelinka said. “I think we live in a world where the television we watch is more personalized, the food we eat when we go out to restaurants, we have more of a say in how to create a [rice] bowl or how to make a meal. I just think it’s really smart to personalize our approach to the serves we put around the player on the training side. There will therefore be a great deal of concentration on this with our staff who will enter the camp. “

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