Thybulle on not getting fully vaccinated: ‘I didn’t see any benefits outweighing what I could seek from alternative medicine’

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Due to his decision not to get fully vaccinated and Canada’s regulations, 76ers wing Matisse Thybulle is ineligible to play in Toronto during Philadelphia’s first-round playoff series against the Raptors.

Thybulle, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“I’m not fully vaccinated,” Thybulle said. “This was a decision I made a long time ago. I thought a lot about what I’d say here. Essentially, I made this choice and I thought I could keep it to myself, I could keep it private, but people are always going to wonder why.

“I was raised in a holistic household where ‘anti-vax’ is not a term that was ever used. It’s a weird term that has kind of been thrown around to just label people. But we grew up with Chinese medicine and naturopathic doctors. With that upbringing, coming into this situation I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me.

“As things escalated and as this situation has played out, I’ve obviously had to reconsider and look at it differently. To that point, it got to the point last year during the playoffs where I did actually consider getting vaccinated and went through with getting the first shot, the first dose. At that point, I was under the impression that getting vaccinated meant that I could not get the disease and transmit it to other people. And I felt like if I’m going to be a part of society, in the position I’m in, I need to do what’s right for the greater good. That argument of the greater good held a lot of weight for me. As things progressed, as this virus has changed many different ways, it just showed through the science that that wasn’t the case anymore — that even while being vaccinated, you could still spread the disease.

“So for me and my reasoning, it felt like getting vaccinated was not something that I needed to do to protect other people. … With that being considered and the holistic background of my upbringing — and just the way I view medicine in general — it felt like I was secure in treating myself … not treating myself, but going to the doctors that I have to treat COVID if I did get it. And in the case that I did, I was able to go about it in my holistic way, and I’m able to sit here today healthy and OK because of it.”

“One of the things my dad taught me growing up is you’re free to do whatever you want as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences of it,” Thybulle said. “Like I said, I considered deeply all the different avenues. And of course I’ve accepted that this could hurt money, contracts, reputation. But I felt like this was the right thing that I needed to do for myself.”

“That was really hard,” he said of discussions with teammates. “I made this decision a while ago where this situation I’m facing right now was not a factor. It wasn’t a part of any of the decision-making, because at the time I would be available for my team … and not restricted in any way to do my job. Having had the stance I’ve had for almost a year now, I just felt like it couldn’t be something that I could be forced to do because of rules or regulation changes. It just seemed like the right thing for me to just see it through.

What does he see as the downsides of receiving a second vaccine dose (which would wipe away those repercussions)?

“My reasoning for getting it or not getting it wasn’t really the downsides,” Thybulle said. “I just didn’t feel like it would benefit me. I didn’t see any benefits outweighing what I could seek from alternative medicine.”

One big benefit to getting fully vaccinated that alternative medicine doesn’t provide: Thybulle could have played Games 3 and 4 (and if necessary, 6) in Toronto.

Vaccinated people are less likely to contract – and therefore spread – coronavirus. Those reductions in likelihood became less pronounced as the omicron variant became predominant. But they still existed.

Perhaps Thybulle felt the reductions in likelihood weren’t significant enough to offset his inclination toward alternative medicine. That might be an understandable choice, especially if he held natural immunity from a prior coronavirus case. There’s room to debate where to draw the line on vaccine mandates, especially with coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths relatively low. The players’ union fought off a vaccine mandate from the NBA under the premise people should have some right to make their own medical decisions.

But Canada’s rules exist. Thybulle can’t pretend they don’t. So – fair or not, anticipated or not – he and his team are facing a big downside from his decision.

Hawks’ Collins out weeks with sprained ankle, Hunter also at least a week

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks will be without both of their starting forwards for at least the next three games.

John Collins will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left ankle and De'Andre Hunter will be sidelined for at least one week with a right hip flexor strain, the Hawks said Thursday.

Both departed with injuries during Wednesday night’s win over Orlando. Hunter played only seven minutes and Collins was hurt after a dunk that didn’t count at the halftime buzzer.

Hunter is third on the Hawks in scoring at 14.9 points per game, and Collins is fourth at 12.3 points.

Hunter, a fourth-year player out of Virginia, has yet to play a full season because of various injuries.

Draymond Green wants to play 4-5 more years, ideally with Warriors, not stressed about contract

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Jordan Poole got a contract extension from the Warriors this summer. So did Andrew Wiggins.

Draymond Green did not — and he punched Poole and was away from the team for a time.

All this has led to speculation about the future of Green in Golden State. He has a $27.6 million player option for next season, but he could become a free agent this summer. With the Warriors’ payroll through the roof — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are on max extensions, Poole and Wiggins just got paid, and contract extensions for Jonathan Kuminga and the rest of the young players are coming — there are questions about how long Green will be in the Bay Area.

In an open and honest interview with Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape, Green talked about everything from his relationship with Poole after the punch to his future. Here are a few highlights:

“I want to play another four or five more years. That would be enough for me.”

“You can look around the NBA right now. There are five guys that’s been on a team for 11 years-plus. We have three of them [along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson]. It’s a very rare thing. There’s 470, 480 players in the NBA? There are five guys that’s been with his team for 11 years plus. That’s amazing. So, you don’t just give that away. So, absolutely I’d be interested in that.”

On rumors he wants to play with LeBron James and the Lakers: “I never said that. People can say what they want. I’m also not really one to react much to what one may say. I react to things when I want to react to it. I don’t react to things just because somebody said it.”

Is he worried about his next contract: “No, not at all. I have a great agent [Rich Paul]. The best agent in the business. That’s why you align yourself with an incredible agent, because they handle the business. I play basketball. That’s what I want.”

I don’t doubt there is mutual interest in Green staying with the Warriors, the question is at what price. It’s not a max. As for the threat of him bolting, Green is still an elite defender and secondary playmaker, but it’s fair to wonder what the free agent market would look like for him. Green is not the scoring threat he once was, and his unique skill set is not a plug-and-play fit with every roster and system (does he really fit on the Lakers, for example).

The conventional wisdom around the league right now is that Green will opt into the final year of his contract with the Warriors — especially if they make another deep playoff run — because that level of money is not out there for him. That said, it only takes one owner to fall in love with the idea and send his GM out to get the deal done. The market may be there for him after all, or he may be open to the security of three or four years with another team but at a lower per-year dollar amount.

Green also talks about his relationship with Poole in the Q&A and makes it sound professional and business-like. Which is all it has to be, but it’s not the “playing with joy” model the Warriors are built upon.

 

Lakers reportedly leaning toward packaging Beverley, Nunn in trade

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While the Lakers have looked better of late winning 6-of-8 with a top-10 offense and defense in the league in that stretch, plus Anthony Davis continues to play at an All-NBA level at center.

That run — which still has Los Angeles sitting 13th in the West — came against a soft part of the schedule (three wins against the Spurs, for example), and is about to get tested with a few weeks of tougher games, starting with the suddenly healthy Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. While the Lakers have been better, nobody is watching them and thinking “contender.” Are they even a playoff team?

Which is why the Lakers are still in the market for trades. But Jovan Buha reports at The Athletic the Lakers realize moving Russell Westbrook and his $47 million may not happen, so they are focused more on a smaller deal moving Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn (with maybe a pick) to bring back quality role players to round out the roster).

The Lakers are leaning toward [a Nunn/Beverley trade] at this point, the team sources said. That would entail making a smaller move to marginally upgrade the roster while retaining the possibility of following up with a larger Westbrook deal later in the season…

Beverley ($13 million) and Nunn ($5.3 million) are both underperforming relative to their contracts. With the Lakers’ needs for additional size on the wing and a better complimentary big next to Anthony Davis, along with the roster’s glut of small guards, Beverley and/or Nunn are expendable. Packaged together, the Lakers could acquire a player or players in the $20 million range.

Trading Nunn and Beverley lines up with a couple of good options from the Lakers’ perspective. For example, the salaries work to get Bojan Bogdanovic out of Detroit, or it matches up with a deal for Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson out of San Antonio. However, neither the Pistons nor Spurs care much about adding veteran guards on expiring contracts in Nunn and Beverley, so it’s going to require the Lakers throwing in one of their first-round picks unprotected (2027 or 2029) and maybe a second-rounder to get it done. (With how well the Pacers are playing, it’s not a sure thing that a Myles Turner/Buddy Hield trade is still available.) The Spurs trade may be more appealing to the Lakers because Richardson and Poeltl are expiring contracts, so it doesn’t change the Lakers’ plans to use cap space to chase bigger names this offseason (Bogdanovic was recently given a two-year, $39.1 million extension).

These may not be the “move us into contender range” blockbuster Rob Pelinka and the front office hoped was out there, but either of those trades would make the Lakers better. It could move them into playoff-team status, and considering LeBron James turns 38 at the end of the month they can’t waste a year and retool next offseason.

The Lakers have made a number of miscalculations over the years, but they are all-in with this group now and have to find a way to maximize it, even if the cost is a little painful.

Khris Middleton reportedly set to return to Bucks Friday vs. Lakers

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The Milwaukee Bucks are about to get better. Likely a lot better.

Which should worry the rest of the league because the Bucks have looked like one of the two best teams in the Association this season: A 15-5 record with the best defense in the NBA and an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Now they are about to get Khris Middleton back.

Middleton — the Bucks Olympian and All-Star forward — is set to make his season debut Friday night against the Lakers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN. Middleton had been recovering from wrist surgery.

Middleton averaged 20.1 points and 5.4 rebounds and assists per game last season. More importantly in Milwaukee, Middleton is the hub of the Bucks’ halfcourt offense — he is the ball handler in the pick-and-roll at the end of games, asked to create for himself and others in the clutch (with Antetokounmpo working off the ball and sometimes setting picks). Without him so far this season, the Bucks’ halfcourt offense has struggled, ranked 21st in the NBA this season in points per possession (via Cleaning the Glass). Overall the Bucks have a middle-of-the-pack offense because of it.

That is about to change.

While Mike Budenholzer will ease him back into the rotation as he gets his wind back, having Middleton back makes the Bucks much more dangerous. Which is bad news for the rest of the NBA.