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Uncertainty over NBA return as players, led by Kyrie Irving, debate societal issues, health

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Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Nothing is certain.

A few days ago, the NBA’s return to play looked like a done deal, but after a hectic day of discussions, led by Kyrie Irving, players are in intense discussions about where they and the season are headed. It may not be Walt Disney World.

According to various reports, many players are upset, concerned not just by health issues and planned conditions inside the Orlando “bubble,” Nor that the players union, the NBPA, didn’t afford a league-wide vote on the plan, considering what the players are being asked to do.

Instead, there is the larger societal issue of re-starting the season while the nation is engaged in a contentious and sometimes violent debate over the treatment of African-Americans at the hands of the police as well as widespread, persistent racism.

In explaining the latter issue, Yahoo’s Chris Haynes wrote...

[S]ome players believe it’s bad optics for a league comprised predominantly of black men to be sequestered in one location for up to three months merely to entertain the masses and ease the league’s economic burden, sources said.

So much so that 80 players got on a union conference call later Friday. In addition to Irving, the call included Kevin Durant, Spencer Dinwiddie and Garrett Temple, who like Irving in a vice president of the players union. While issues related to the “bubble” and health got some attention, Taylor Rooks reported that most of the conversation concerned societal issues...

And as a series of tweets, mostly from Shams Charania, indicated, Irving’s role was crucial...

As Chris Haynes wrote prior to the call, “Irving’s stance is meaningful because he’s on the executive committee that voted for the season’s resumption.”

Following the meeting, Haynes said Irving said he will go along with what ever the union decides. Irving won’t play because he’s recovering from shoulder surgery.

In the past several days, players have begun to express concerns about the “bubble” plan and how they will be confined, in some cases, for three months at Walt Disney World, the first month without family and friends. Then, there’s the issue of the rising infection rates for the coronavirus in Florida in general and Orange County, the home of the Disney complex.

Adrian Wojnarowski took less a less positive tone in describing Irving’s leadership, essentially accusing him of leading a revolt while simultaneously offering support for the plan. Here’s what he wrote before the meeting...

So yes, it surprised several of his NBPA colleagues that Irving — lost to the season with shoulder surgery in March — was simultaneously lending his voice to a different discussion with rank-and-file union members on upending the league’s plans for a 22-team restart at Disney World in Orlando, sources said.

Irving is expected to be a significant voice on a call Friday night that’s expected to include a significant percentage of the league’s players, sources said. Irving’s been a leader in sharing his thoughts on race and wealth in America, asking how precisely a predominately black group of NBA players should proceed in this climate of racial transformation in the country.

Irving has forged a reputation as a disruptor within his career, and that’s emerging again at this crucial moment for the NBA.

Irving’s position shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those who follow him. During protests a little more than a week ago, Irving wrote this as part of an Instagram post...

“It’s clear White Supremacy and Corporations use us Native Indigenous Black Folk when it is beneficial for their agenda and pockets, so be aware of the truth in plain sight Family. How are we gonna break these generational curses that have been put on us purposefully to kill us and our families off? Taking our Land and Culture Back!”

Beyond the societal issues that dominated the players’ conversation, those issues related to the return-to-play have also gotten the players’ attention.

A look at the calendar shows how tight things will be as players first return to their home team’s practice facilities, then move to Orlando where they will be housed at least one and as many as three Disney resorts. The games, once they start up, will be played at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World, specifically The Arena, HP Field House and Visa Athletic Center.

The games may run from noon to midnight They will be divided into a continuation of regular season —called “seeding games”— and the playoffs. Each playoff series will be best-of-seven including the Finals.

Here’s the tentative calendar, starting Friday...

June 12 - Up to two coaches/development personnel can work out a player at a team’s practice facility. Previously, only one-to-one workouts were permitted.

June 15 - Players located internationally return to market. Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are the Nets three international players. Musa has remained in Brooklyn for the duration. If one or the other are overseas, they may be permitted to quarantine elsewhere rather than in Brooklyn because of Brooklyn’s high infection rate.

June 20 - NBA camps re-open in team practice facilities

June 21 - All players report to teams’ practice facility.

June 22 - Coronavirus testing begins.

June 22 - July 1 - Two-way contracts can be converted to standard deals and teams can add players with some restrictions.

June 23 - For the first time, head coaches can supervise a player’s workout.

July 7 - All 22 teams in the “bubble” travel to Orlando. All players will be required to observe a 36-hour quarantine.

July 9-29 - Training camp at the “bubble” in Orlando. Three intersquad scrimmages permitted.

July 30-August 14 - NBA regular season games restart at ESPN Worldwide of Sports on Walt Disney World campus outside Orlando. Nets first game will be against the Clippers.

August 3 (or 10) - Deadline for NCAA players to withdraw from Draft.

—August 15-16 - Play-in Tournament (if necessary).

—August 17 - First round of playoffs opens.

August 25 - NBA Draft Lottery. Lottery odds will be based on March 11 records. If Nets fail to make the playoffs, they will retain their own pick, which is lottery-protected.

Late August - A modified Draft Combine with medical testing, player interviews and, possibly, measurements.

August 28 - Rev. Al Sharpton and George Floyd family will lead a march on Washington. Will NBA players want to attend?

August 30 - Family/guests of teams arrive at WDW.

—August 31-September 13 - Second round of playoffs opens

—September 15-28 - Conference Finals begin

—September 30-October 13 - NBA Finals begin

October 5 - NBA draft deadline for players to withdraw, a conflict with the NCAA

October 13 - Last possible date for Game 7 of NBA Finals

October 15 - NBA Draft. Team options for Garrett Temple and Theo Pinson.

October 18 - Free agency opens. Joe Harris the Nets big free agent

October 20 - Teams can begin signing free agents

November 10 - Training camp for 2020-21 season opens in team practice facilities (tentative)

December 1 - the 202-21 season opens (tentative)

The NBA and NBPA are still discussing details of an offseason program of camps, scrimmages and other activities for the eight teams left out of the Orlando restart, sources tell ESPN. Executives with those teams have been in regular contact with each other and league.