Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow questions whether NBA cares about player safety amid coronavirus

In a post to his Instagram story on Friday, Memphis Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow expressed some of the harshest criticism by an NBA player to date, suggesting the league is prioritizing revenue over safety.

“This s--- ain’t even bout basketball or our safety anymore,” the Instagram post read. “All About The Benjamins baby. Not sure if they really care if we get corona. FOH.”

Winslow also questioned the efficacy of a “Smart Ring” designed to gauge symptoms of the coronavirus. Players who participate in the planned resumption of the 2019-20 season will have access to the rings.

In the aftermath of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus, forcing the suspension of the season, the NBA shifted heavily from its original stance of resuming the season “if and when it becomes safe for all concerned” to “a series of bad options,” none of which “will be risk-free.”

The Grizzlies are among the 22 teams scheduled to report next month to Orlando, Fla., for the remainder of the season. Details of the NBA’s plan raise numerous concerns about resuming the season in the midst of both the COVID-19 global pandemic and worldwide protests against systemic social injustices.

Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow voiced his criticism of the NBA's return-to-play plan. (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Winslow was traded from the Miami Heat to Memphis in February. He has yet to play for the Grizzlies, sitting out most of the season with a back injury. He told the Memphis Commercial Appeal last month, “I’ve just been waiting to put on that jersey.” Winslow has also been vocal about his mental health battle.

“I just know I have a bigger purpose than basketball and that’s just to help everyone reach their potential and that mental health aspect is a huge part of it,” Winslow said during an interview with Grind City Media in late May. “We don’t need to talk about it all day, but we need to make time for it every day.”

After a group of NBA superstars established a unified front in favor of continuing the season, and the National Basketball Players Association unanimously agreed to approve further negotiations on the 22-team return-to-play scenario, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving recently conducted a conference call for players to voice their concerns. Nearly one-fifth of the league’s players reportedly participated in the call.

The Grizzlies are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference, with a likely first-round exit against the Los Angeles Lakers awaiting them should they hold onto the final playoff seed. Questions surround the engagement of teams playing out the season with little chance of contending for a championship.

Orlando is experiencing a significant spike in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests in the weeks following the reopening of Florida’s economy. The state reported a record 3,207 new cases on Thursday.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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