Nobody — not Adam Silver, not Chris Paul, not Dr. Anthony Fauci — knows if the NBA will be able to salvage its season. There are just too many variables right now.
But there is a sense of optimism in league circles the NBA will find a way. Somehow. People believe there will be playoffs and a champion, likely crowned in a “bubble” without fans, but it will happen and be televised.
Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote about it after speaking with a variety of people, specifically discussing the idea of a “bubble” in Las Vegas or somewhere else where the games can be played.
“Basketball guys are for it — they want to play,” one NBA player from a title-contending team wrote. “MLB (is) different (because) they have a whole season. We just have 1-2 months to finish up.”…
“The 45-minute (COVID-19) test results is big, the ability to be able to test and get the results that quickly,” [players union VP Garrett] Temple said. “I think if we have a situation where we know the testing can be done, where we know whether the person has it in a much more timely manner, and we test right before we go into the facility, wherever we end up playing, (is ideal). Everybody gets tested — if we have enough tests to go around and do that. I feel comfortable enough that the league will have it under control to where we can play if (all the players) are negative.”…
One team owner, for example, discussed a scenario in which players were given approximately a month to get back in shape (including their team training camp) starting in early June, the regular season began in July and the Finals were eventually played in … late October. Another owner agreed wholeheartedly that league-wide confidence was growing that this season would be saved, as did a few other folks who have a quality read of the room.
Read Amick’s entire story, there is a lot to unpack.
Testing remains the baseline for any plan to work. There need to be rapid and accurate tests available — false negative rates have been an issue with some past tests. There needs to be enough tests available nationally that the fact the NBA will use thousands to play games will not be seen as taking tests away from needed hot spots. The same applies to medical personnel that will need to attend games (EMTs, doctors, etc.). As a nation we are not there right now, but will we be in June? July?
A number of locations can work. Las Vegas is the destination getting the most focus, but the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando does have some logistical advantages. Whatever destination is chosen (or destinations, possibly), they need to be able to be secured. That’s not going to be easy.
Finally, how much is the NBA willing to push back and alter next season? Amick has an owner talking about this season going into October, which would push the start of next season back into December — and there are people pushing for the NBA to make that shift. Sources around the league have told me the NBA doesn’t want to alter next season dramatically and would want to end this Finals by early September. How much regular season (if any) does the league want to have teams play, and how condensed with the playoffs be? There’s a lot of variables, but it all comes down to the NBA setting an end date for this season based on when they want to start the next one.
Right now, all of that is up in the air. But there is optimism.