A host of details have been released over recent days and weeks that point to the NBA’s return from hiatus as an imminent event. Instead of an “if” question, getting back to the court seems like more of a “when” question now more than ever. The first step is getting players back into their markets and back on the court, and Danny Ainge gave us a status update on that for the Boston Celtics in his appearance for the Lowe Post podcast.
Ainge mentioned that although Massachusetts has been slow to open things up, the Celtics were hopeful to open up the Auerbach Center for player workouts this week. Although the organization can’t host coordinated group workouts at this time, at least the facility is open for players to get sanctioned workouts in. For players without hoops or open spaces at their homes, early workouts could be a big help to get players back into mental, physical and basketball shape.
Another step toward a return to play is, most importantly, the health of the players and the organization members that will be gathered together to finish the season. Shams Charania of The Athletic offered up an update in that regard:
NBA shoring up its testing protocols, informing teams that it is engaged in conversations with BioReference Laboratories, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics and Vault Health/RUCDR Infinite Biologics at Rutgers, sources said. Teams asked to create account with each company. https://t.co/s2LoeBn5Mi— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 21, 2020
Testing is a vital and crucial part of the return-to-play process. Shoring up testing and making sure it isn’t to the detriment of the citizens in the area in which the NBA will return is an essential component. Thankfully, it appears that the NBA is at least attempting to do this the safest way possible. At the end of the day, lives are more important than basketball (but basketball still is pretty important).
Where will the NBA return? Disney World in Orlando is the frontrunner, according to Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. CelticsBlog’s Keith Smith has gone over those details since pitching the idea months ago, and while it always made sense from the beginning, it’s becoming more and more of a reality every day, including with this update from Marc Stein:
League sources say NBA teams have been informed they would likely be allowed to bring (roughly) 35 players/coaches/staff into a "campus" environment if the 2019-20 season, as increasingly expected, resumes in July— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 22, 2020
In normal circumstances, team travel parties routinely exceed 50
To ensure that everyone gets their full paychecks, the NBA is likely to play out the rest of the season to get to 70 games in order to fill out obligations with regional sports networks. It seems pointless to have players for lottery teams fly out and put themselves at risk just to play 5-6 games, but the financial ramifications (over $1 billion) of not reaching that threshold would hurt the pockets of pretty much everyone in the NBA. As for the players, including on lottery teams, there haven’t been many vocal objections to reach the 70-game mark.
What would the schedule look like? We don’t know for sure, but here’s an idea:
Told today that if the NBA does resume with all 30 teams at a single-site, game days are likely to look like Summer League. Games would be almost all day long (starting around 12:00 noon ET) until the regular season is complete. Playoffs would follow a more regular schedule.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 22, 2020
When will things get started? No one knows for sure, but there are rumblings:
Rough NBA timeline that was mentioned to me from a team exec today:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 21, 2020
Early June - Back in facilities
Mid-late June - Camp
Early July - Travel to single-site
Mid July - Games start
Labor Day-ish - Season ends
Mid Sept. - Draft
Week later - Free agency
Xmas-ish - 20-21 season starts
That’s just practice... I heard those last 5 games at bubble site start July 15th. https://t.co/EsF3omehYQ— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) May 21, 2020
This could be fun! Or it could be disastrous. All we can hope for is that we get hoops back in the least riskiest way possible. As of right now, it appears that all parties involved are on board with the same objective.