Pelinka guarantees Lakers vaccinated for opening

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

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

While the League will not force players to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes reported last week, certain teams will have to follow stricter health and safety protocols than others based on the requirements. state and county health and safety services.

Pelinka said the organization will consult with UCLA Health, a team sponsor, to secure vaccinations for its players.

“I think in collaboration with UCLA and the doctors and people internally, we will be grateful that we do not have interruptions caused by the vaccination status of a player or staff member,” he said.

To the Lakers star, Lebron James, was asked in May if he had been vaccinated to prevent the coronavirus and said it was a “family” matter. The pivot Dwight howard, who returned to the Lakers as a free agent this offseason, previously questioned the effectiveness of the vaccines on one of his social media accounts.

“Do I believe in vaccines?” Howard asked in an Instagram Live video in July 2020. “No, I don’t know. That’s my personal opinion, but no, it’s not.”

Pelinka did not mention which players have not yet been vaccinated.

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

The Lakers will unofficially open training camp with a mini-camp, organized by James, in Las Vegas this weekend and celebrate Media Day in Los Angeles on Tuesday, sources said. The news of the minicamp was first reported by The Athletic.

From there, the team will have five days of practice before the first preseason game 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 state and local authorities, but we’re excited that it looks like the Staples Center will be packed with Lakers fans by opening night,” Pelinka said.

When the Lakers hosted Golden State in the entry tournament in the spring, the Staples Center was only allowed to operate at 33% capacity (about 6,000 fans instead of the full 18,997).

They will witness a more elegant version of James when he begins his nineteenth season.

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

While James dropped 17 digits from his uniform, shifting from No. 23 to No. 6, he has maintained his weight around the 250 pounds that was on the list last season, sources told ESPN. His offseason regimen focused on adding lean muscle rather than losing weight, sources said.

James, who turns 37 in December, is one of the Lakers trying to extend their prime this season. The Lakers have nine players with more than 12 years of experience out of the 13 guys currently signed on the roster, representing the most players in league history with as much experience on a team (the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs and 2016-17 Cleveland Cavaliers both had seven players to reach that bar.)

To maintain the aging roster, Pelinka detailed the organization’s offseason efforts to strengthen the medical and training staff, which included replacing head athletic coach Nina Hsieh with the Warriors’ Roger Sancho and adding staff to that department.

“We are moving towards a more personalized model for the players,” said Pelinka. “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 voice in how to create a bowl [de arroz] or how to prepare a meal. I think it’s really smart to customize our approach to the services we provide to the player on the training side. So there will be a big focus on that with our staff at the camp. “