While the NBA has pushed for players to be vaccinated and has staged education sessions for teams, there has been no league mandate for the vaccine. But cities have superseded league policy in New York City and San Francisco with policies restricting entry into indoor venues to vaccinated individuals, meaning a player on the Knicks, Nets or Warriors could be forced to sit out home games and practices.
The Knicks announced Friday that the team is fully vaccinated — players, coaches and staff. After navigating as well as possible through the COVID-19 struggles last season, never having to shut practices down, Julius Randle said he was pleased that the Knicks would comply with rules and avoid distractions.
"Yeah, it’s great," Randle said. "Being available every night is great. And we know we have our guys available, that’s the biggest thing. The fact that we can practice together every day. Regardless, [avoiding getting] injured, whatever it is, they’ll be available to play. So I’m excited about it."
Last season with Boston, Kemba Walker sat out one game in every back-to-back set on the schedule, part of a plan to protect his knee. But he indicated that he is not approaching this season in New York with a similar strategy.
"That was all the Celtics' plan last year," Walker said. "They already had that mapped out for me to not play back-to-backs. We’re just going to go, see how I feel, game by game. My plan isn’t — I’m not going to just say I’m not playing back-to-backs. That’s not the deal. Just see how I feel."
Walker said that he thought the plan did help and that when he was forced to miss games in the playoffs it was a separate injury. But as he has started working with the Knicks in Westchester, he remains hopeful that the issues are managed now.
"It’s been feeling really good," he said. "I’ve been here for the last few weeks, really just working, just working at getting myself feeling as good as I can. I feel really good right now. I want to continue to feel good. I’m going to try to keep doing everything in my power to feel really good."
Evan Fournier explained that his parents were both national team judo competitors when he was growing up and that his father is the French national team coach. Asked what level he had reached, he joked, "I used to practice with him on the sideline, but it wasn’t official. I can kick your [butt] though."