Wearable tech being allowed in NBA games is inching closer to becoming a reality.
According to league sources, the NBA players' union will be meeting Tuesday with Whoop, a wearable tech company that recently made headlines after Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Matthew Dellavedova illegally wore its biotracker wristband in games during almost all of March.
On March 31, the league office was made aware of Dellavedova's wristband and informed the Cavs that Dellavedova could not wear the banned device in games. Neither the team nor Dellavedova received a fine or suspension; Dellavedova has since stopped wearing it in games.
The Dellavedova incident comes on the heels of MLB announcing it would allow wearable tech for in-game use starting this season, according to a report by The Associated Press. However, only two specific devices would be fair game: a Motus arm sleeve that tracks elbow stress and Zephyr's BioHarness that monitors heart rate, respiration and accelerometry.
The NBA, NFL and NHL do not allow any wearables for in-game use.
League memos sent out by the NBA state that wearable devices are prohibited during games, but it would take a joint agreement by the NBA and its players' union to amend those rules. However, players are allowed to wear workload tracking devices such as Whoop or Australia-based Catapult's accelerometers during practices and shootarounds.
Tuesday's meeting indicates an important step in the union's understanding and education about the benefits and risks such a technology would bring for players.
Dellavedova would not comment on the incident, but he confirmed that he wore the device, which tracks heart rate, ambient temperature, sleep habits and other physiological markers. Mike Mancias, the Cavs' athletic trainer and personal trainer of forward LeBron James, is an adviser to the company, which is based in Boston. In Feb. 2015, James was announced as the first vice president of the players' union.
On Monday, Whoop's co-founder and CEO Will Ahmed would not confirm the upcoming meeting with the union, but he issued a statement to ESPN regarding the legality of its device in American professional sports leagues.
"We respect the privacy of all our clients and won't speak to our relationships with them. I think continuous monitoring is a new category that the leagues are right to carefully explore. At Whoop, we strive to empower athletes continuously.
"Monitoring strain during games is one piece of that equation and we look forward to working with all the professional leagues to empower athletes to better understand their bodies. To be clear, Whoop is a valuable asset independent of in game wear because of our activity, sleep and recovery analysis.
"But let's not deprive athletes of in game analysis. It's their careers at stake and data is not steroids."
The league has not punished a player or team for use of wearables, which will remain banned until the NBA and union come to a resolution.