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Garrett Temple, union veep, on return to play: ‘It’s so fluid’

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Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Garrett Temple is not only a respected Nets veteran aching to get back on the court. He’s also a vice president of the NBPA, the players union. So when The Athletic wanted a good read on things, including a return to play, Temple was their go-to insider.

As The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Joe Vardon write, “To put in ‘Hamilton’ parlance, Temple is in the room where it happens.”

But with the coronavirus pandemic worsening and other leagues around the world dead or on life support, the NBA is still trying to figure out how and when they can get back on the court, even without fans, possibly even in the a central location or two.

Temple admits it’s going to be challenging. Of the players union, he told Amick and Vardon...

“We’ve talked maybe three or four times as an Executive Committee, maybe five times. We probably are going to talk again on Wednesday. It’s so fluid. Everything that you’re hearing is the same thing that we’re hearing about maybe mid-June (to restart the season), depending on (what happens with the COVID-19 curve).

“And obviously it would be in front of no fans. … If the 50-people-or-less (parameters to play a game with no fans) changes, then you’d need at least 150, 200 people to actually run a game and have TV broadcasts and everything like that. And depending on where we want to have the games — it’s probably not the case that the games would be in the (NBA) arenas.”

Temple noted as well that the players will have to feel safe no matter what schedule looks like...

“For me, I think the 45-minute (COVID-19) test results is big, the ability to be able to test and get the results that quickly (there are even tests that return results in five minutes, with mass production reportedly starting this week). I agree that fans not being there (at the games) is a plus, but 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. And whoever isn’t negative, in terms of whoever needs to be in the facility, cannot go into the facility. I would feel comfortable if we have that, and also the facilities being disinfected prior to, directly prior to us entering them.

“So I think those measures, right now, as well as the basketball (and) everything in the facility, everything that will be used, being disinfected prior to us using them, as well as people being tested before we enter. Nobody knows how that’s going to look in terms of playoffs, or after the next game do you continue doing that for each game or during the playoffs do people stay in the same area? It’s an interesting situation that’s going to unfold, either way it goes.”

And there’s also the issue of players salaries. The NBA has yet to commit to paying players beyond April 1. Most NBA players get paid the 1st and 15th of the month. Temple said he and the union have been thinking about ways around the issue.

“Over 400 guys are paid on a 12-month pay period, a pay schedule, so (that’s) 24 paychecks (annually). And April 1 would be the 10th paycheck (out of the 24), I believe, if not the 11th. … The default pay plan is 24 payments through a 12-month period, (and) most guys, over 80 percent of the guys, get paid up until Nov. 1, and then the next (fiscal) year starts Nov. 15. A lot of that was done to halt people that would go into the summertime and run through money. But because of that, being April 1, if you do the math it’s around 10 or 11 checks that have been paid out. So less than half of what we’re owed has been paid.

“We’ve talked about instead of stopping checks directly at whatever month they need to be stopped, more so reducing the amount that is given each check. … But all of this is obviously ideas throwing around. We want to be ready for whatever happens. … Hopefully the curve … starts to go down, and people can start slowly getting back to a normal life and we can begin our season and finish playing.”

On the prospect of playing in a neutral site like Vegas, he told Amick and Vardon it’s going to be strange if it happens.

“It’s ironic, because we were talking (with the NBA) about the midseason tournament that the league has thought about doing for next year or the year after that, and the championship of that tournament being in a place like Vegas. (And now) we’ve come to a situation where we may have to play in one certain area.

“I guess Vegas is a place, obviously, we know. The league, the NBA, comes together for Summer League there. It’s an area that we know, we understand. So it’s definitely a possibility. It wouldn’t be anything foreign to us because of the fact that Summer League is there every year. But it would be foreign because it’s something totally different and totally unprecedented.”

Temple spoke about the Nets as well and his shock at four teammates including Kevin Durant getting tested positive.

“We hadn’t played against any teams that they had played against (recently). …We were thinking that none of us probably have it. It’s just a nice precaution to take because we were in L.A. and guys went to dinner or maybe went out and stuff like that. So when we found out that KD had it, it was kind of shocking honestly, because he wasn’t showing any symptoms. … I was sad for him, because it’s just something that you don’t want to have, because we don’t really know anything about it. That was the main thing. I was surprised and I wanted to make sure he knew we had his back and whatever he needed.

“As a team, we have a group chat and everybody told him they were thinking about him and things of that nature, as well as the other guys.”

One other thing about Temple. On Monday, he gave a shoutout to his mom and other workers in the health and service sectors who are still out there.

Add us to the thank yous.