The Washington Wizards are one of the NBA teams that aren’t fully vaccinated. At a minimum, Bradley Beal isn’t. And it’s possible that Kyle Kuzma isn’t either. The good news, for now, is that barring physical injury like a broken bone or torn ligament, Beal and Kuzma can play every game, despite the fact that local city governments in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles have placed vaccine mandates on all attendees at indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues, including performers and athletes. NBA.com has a guide here on how these mandates affect players, both on home and road teams.
Which teams are affected by coronavirus vaccine mandates?
The current coronavirus vaccine mandates in those cities were deemed to be affecting only NBA players who play in those cities. So the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers were affected. With the notable exception of the Nets, where Kyrie Irving will start missing games and losing paychecks because of his decision, the other four teams’ rosters are fully vaccinated or will be fully vaccinated by the start of the season.
For now, what do the vaccines mean for Beal at least?
Nothing, for now.
Beal is eligible to play every game, even when the Wizards play the Knicks for a preseason game on Friday, Oct. 15 at Madison Square Garden. Again, this is because road team players are exempt from city vaccination mandates, for now. The Wizards’ first away game in a city with a mandate is on Monday, Oct. 25 when they play the Brooklyn Nets.
What about the Raptors and Canadian restrictions?
The Wizards’ first regular season game is against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Oct. 20. When that game happens, Beal will still be allowed to fly into Canada and play the game with negative tests. However, he faces strict quarantine rules where he can only leave his hotel for team activities. If he or any unvaccinated player fails to do so, it’s a criminal penalty.
Sources: NBA players were informed unvaccinated players who breach quarantine in Toronto face criminal offense. Unvaccinated players only able to leave hotel for team activities. Per Canada's Quarantine Act, violations could lead to up to 6 months in prison and/or $750K in fines.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 7, 2021
Are there proposals to prevent unvaccinated road team players from playing in NYC, San Fran, or LA?
Yes. A State Senator in New York State is proposing a bill to close a loophole in NYC’s vaccine mandate which would require any athlete or performer to be vaccinated, even if they don’t technically work or live there. That bill would probably not get passed until next year if it is due to the state legislature’s schedule.
But there could always be tighter mandates at the local level even sooner, whether in New York or any city. After all, Beal is scheduled to be in New York City next week and he could face a hostile Knicks crowd over his status.
Could Washington, D.C. add a vaccine mandate too?
It’s always possible, though Mayor Muriel Bowser wasn’t willing to do it as of last August.
That said, late last month, Bowser issued a Mayor’s Order (equivalent to an executive order) that all adults in schools and child care centers must be vaccinated by Nov. 1. The order also applies to any child who wishes to take part in “school-based extracurricular activities.”
Schools aren’t entertainment venues. But it wouldn’t surprise me if D.C. implemented a NYC or LA type of rule soon. If that happens, unvaccinated Wizards players like Beal would be ineligible for home games and lose pay for them.
How much of this vaccine talk will affect the Wizards’ season?
As of right now, it won’t affect the Wizards because Beal won’t lose money or miss games over it ... at least not yet. However, if regulations tighten (and my gut feeling believes they will), it could put Washington in a tough spot with their franchise player.