The NBA has been working hard to resume its 2019-2020 seasons since it was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. As stated across the country slowly start to ease their lockdown orders and sports leagues internationally begin prepping to resume, there’s at least some optimism that the NBA can do the same.
This week, some teams were allowed to open their practice facilities in order to allow players to have voluntary individual workouts. The Los Angeles Lakers have set May 16th as a tentative target date to do the same with California having some of the more strict measures in the country to counter the spread of the virus. They are also being allowed to test players and staff for COVID-19 due to the availability of those tests in Los Angeles.
As the NBA made these decisions, commissioner Adam Silver spoke to players via conference call with one particularly important tidbit reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic: the league may not make a final decision on whether the season will continue until some time in June.
That is, in essence, in line with other major sports leagues. Germany’s top soccer league, the Bundesliga, will resume play next week with no fans but other soccer leagues, like Spain’s La Liga, are planning for a June re-start or have already shut down the season like France’s Ligue Un.
It should be noted that a decision in June, particularly later in the month, may mean that play would not resume until July at the earliest. It’s expected that there will be some sort of training camp period to allow players to get back into shape in order to avoid injuries.
Other notes to come out of Silver’s conference call via Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski include the following:
The league, as expected, is not planning to allow fans back into arenas if the season does resume. In fact, there is a possibility that that policy extends into next season if a vaccine is not developed before then. Fan attendance accounts for 40% of league revenue, per Silver.
Silver also pushed the idea of playing games in only one or two cities, at least to start, in order to minimize traveling and health risks. The two locations most often discussed by the league office have been Las Vegas and Walt Disney World in Orlando.
Some players reportedly expressed concerns that they felt pressured by their teams to attend the practice facility for workouts despite them being labeled voluntary. According to Wojnarowski, Silver informed them that he would speak with all 30 teams about those concerns.
Silver also reportedly told players that he is hoping to still have seven-game series for all rounds of the playoffs with the idea that a “bubble” city would minimize traveling time and allow those series to be played out more quickly.
Finally, Silver expressed that he hoped that by the time the season resumes, there would be daily testing available so that if a player did test positive for Coronavirus, it would be detected quickly and the season could continue with that player going into self-isolation until healthy.
There appear to still be a lot of kinks to work out in the NBA’s plan to resume the season and one has to wonder if it’s feasible or even worth the risks.