Twenty-one NBA teams have opened their practice facilities to players, although with many restrictions. Don’t even think about scrimmages. Players are limited to working out.
Problem is that a number of teams, including the Nets, Knicks, Raptors and Celtics, are operating under different rules because they play in jurisdictions with tougher guidelines on social distancing ... and a higher number of deaths due to the coronavirus. Some of their players left their markets during the crisis.
So, Adrian Wojnarowski reports, those teams have appealed to the NBA for a different route to a return-to-play. Rather than wait for the local guidelines to change, they want their players to leap frog workouts and eventually even practice sessions and head for the “bubble” or “bubbles” where the games will be played.
Executives from Brooklyn, Boston, New York and Toronto were among those on Thursday’s general manager’s call with the league office who expressed concern about how waiting on the league to release a timetable complicates their ramp-ups to return in ways that are unique to those marketplaces, sources said.
The big issue is the NBA’s quarantine requirements, Woj added.
Most teams in regions still adhering to stay-at-home policies amid the coronavirus pandemic have an abundance of players who left their marketplace during the shutdown and would need to quarantine for an extended period — perhaps as many as 14 days — prior to joining workouts in team facilities. Teams want to avoid having to quarantine significant portions of their rosters twice --- once upon returning to more restrictive markets, and again, at the bubble site.
Although there have been scattered reports of Nets players heading to California (Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan) and Texas (Spencer Dinwiddie), Woj reports that there are a large number of Nets and Knicks who left New York.
“[M]ost players on the Knicks and Nets haven’t returned to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, New York. In most instances, front-office executives said, they’re unable to get players to return to their markets to start preparing for the season’s resumption without the commissioner announcing that the season will be resumed.”
Woj did not break down how many players from each team left the market. Although Brooklyn has been called the epicenter of the pandemic, one of the first areas in the U.S. to be hard hit was Westchester County, where the Knicks practice facility is located.
In addition, Woj writes that the league apparently hasn’t decided whether to return to the regular season or jump to the playoffs once play returns, probably in mid-July. Various scenarios are being considered, he notes.
“... a modified 30-team regular-season schedule directly to the playoffs, pool-play rounds of a play-in tournament and play-in models with fewer than 30, but more than 16 teams, sources said. Several members of the league’s board of governors believe that the NBA’s preference isn’t to bring every team to resume the season, but that remains undecided.”
Finally, although Walt Disney World has garnered a lot of attention as a potential, even likely “bubble” site, Bucks owner Marc Lasry told CNBC Thursday Eastern Conference teams will likely play in Orlando, Western Conference teams in Las Vegas.
The NBA has a Board of Governors conference call set for next Friday. At that point, the league is expected to provide additional details for teams on a timetable and plan to proceed with the season, said Woj.
- Sources: Teams asking NBA if they can report directly to campus sites - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN