The new Lakers 2010 NBA Champions DVD is out this week — get your copy at the NBA store — and as always the production value is outstanding. Like this great synopsis of the Lakers and Celtics rivalry.
The Trail Blazers, owned by Jody Allen, cast the lone dissenting vote on the NBA’s plan to resume with 22 teams.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Portland's vote — the lone dissenting in the 29-to-1 Board of Governors call today on the NBA's 22-team plan to resume season — reflected the franchise's feedback from its players too, sources said. https://t.co/xwA5cKDxdJ
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 4, 2020
Sources: Blazers are eager to resume season, but chose to vote “No” because franchise believed there were more competitive and innovative formats on table — including those that addressed 2020 NBA Draft lottery odds based on regular-season game results in Orlando.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 4, 2020
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
Yahoo Sources: Portland preferred a 20-team return-to-play format, thus one of the reasons why they voted no to the 22-team format.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 4, 2020
Portland guard CJ McCollum:
We play for an ownership group that actually listens to its players and has a backbone. We voiced what we felt was the best option and they followed our lead. I commend our front office and Jody Allen. https://t.co/mAj5EzeiUh
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) June 4, 2020
Wojnarowski mentioned how lottery odds are calculated – relevant only if Portland misses the postseason and something current players tend not to dwell on.
This feels incongruous.
Was safety a concern? The risk of coronavirus is higher with 22 teams than 20. However, it’s higher with 20 teams than 16.
The Trail Blazers are 17th in the league. And nobody publicly mentioned health. Having just 20 teams – especially with a group stage – would’ve given Portland an easier path into the top 16. (It’s unclear how many teams would’ve made the playoffs with a group stage).
NBA commissioner Adam Silver wanted everyone to unite behind this plan. Even other owners who disagreed with the plan voted for it. But with the Trail Blazers’ no vote, Allen engendered greater support from her players. If nothing else, that has value.
The NBA plans to rush through the 2020 offseason and begin the 2020-21 season Dec. 1… just to rush through the 2020-21 season.
Frank Isola of The Athletic:
The NBA is looking at a potential Dec. 1 start for the 2020-21 season and a mid-July Finals. The hope is to keep NBA players — from every country — in play for the Olympics.
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) June 4, 2020
The NBA Finals normally begin 226 days after the regular-season opener with an 18-day window to play the best-of-seven series. So, based on a typical timeline, a Dec. 1 opener would mean the Finals would be held July 15 – Aug. 1., 2021.
The Tokyo Olympics are slated to begin July 23, 2021.
So, something must give.
It probably won’t be regular-season games. As much as the NBA would like its players to get exposure in the Olympics, owners will be extremely reluctant to surrender direct revenue. Likewise, the many NBA players not headed to the Olympics should share similar financial concerns.
More likely, the league will reduce the number of rest days during the 2020-21 season. That seems risky given the drastic disruptions already affecting conditioning entering the season.
It’s also possible players whose NBA teams advance deep enough in the playoffs just won’t be able to play in the Olympics (or Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, which are scheduled for June and July 2021).
Like with many things affected by coronavirus, there are no good answers – just hard decisions on what to compromise.
Players do not report to the Walt Dinsey World campus in Orlando for another month to restart the NBA season — and it will be weeks after that before games start on July 31 — but we’re beginning to learn more about life inside that bubble.
A bubble the players from a couple of teams could be in for more than three months.
On a Friday conference call, representatives of the National Basketball Players Association backed the 22-team return-to-play format. Out of that call, we learned some more details about what life will be like in the bubble, courtesy Shams Charania of The Athletic. Among his notes:
– 1,600 maximum people on campus
– Coronavirus testing every day; minimum seven days of quarantine for a player who tests positive
– There could be crowd noise via NBA 2K video game sounds, but the NBA and NBPA is still discussing creative opportunities
That 1,600 people in the bubble/campus includes players and staffs from teams (about 770 people) plus referees, league personnel, broadcasters, and more. It fills up quickly, which is why family members — likely just three per player — will not be allowed until after at least the second round of the playoffs when a number of teams have cleared out (an issue for players).
Players were asked once in the bubble not to leave, and the same applied to their families when they arrive. This is not a summer vacation at Disney World. While there are no armed guards or security to keep players and staff on the campus, the goal was to create a safe environment and people heading out into greater Orlando, for whatever reason, sets that goal back.
The daily testing will be done by the NBPA and will involve mouth or light nasal swabs, not the invasive ones. Also, there will be no antibody testing, and no blood tests.
Teams will get a three-hour practice window during training camp and on off-days, which will include time in the provided wight room. After that, the equipment will be sanitized before the next team uses the courts.
Crowd noise — as seen on the Bundesliga soccer broadcasts from Germany seen here in the USA — is controversial. While the league is talking to the makers of the NBA 2K video game about piped-in crowd noise, that is definitely a topic still up for discussion.
As Keith Smith discussed on the ProBasketballTalk Podcast this week, games in Orlando are expected to be played sort of like at Summer League, with some starting at noon (or early afternoon) and alternating on courts all day. East Coast teams will likely have the earlier slots while there could be some 10 p.m. Eastern start times for a couple of West Coast teams (where it would still be just 7 p.m.).
We previously knew players would be allowed to golf and eat at outdoor restaurants at the Disney resort, so long as they followed social distancing guidelines.
For everything we know about life in the bubble, there are far more questions left unanswered. In the next month we will learn a lot more.
It’s not perfect and there are still details to be worked out — including exactly when next season will start — but the NBA players are on board with 22-team restart plan for the NBA season in Orlando.
Friday the National Basketball Players Association, with 28 team representatives on the conference call, voted to approve the 22-team plan. Here is the official statement from the union:
“The Board of Player Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has approved further negotiations with the NBA on a 22-team return to play scenario to restart the 2019-20 NBA season. Various details remain to be negotiated and the acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”
This was expected. NBA Commissioner has worked closely with players union president Chris Paul of the Thunder and executive director Michelle Roberts throughout the process. There were no big surprises in the plan by the time it came up for a vote. Nobody got everything they wanted but everyone got a plan they could live with.
The issues still to be negotiated include some of the health and safety procedures — although players were informed on Friday’s call there will be daily testing and were asked not to leave the Orlando bubble — as well as the timing of the off-season and the start date of next season.
The biggest issue to be figured out still, of course, will be money.
It’s money that ultimately got owners and players to come together behind the 22-team format. It plays regular-season games — called “seeding games” — that can be broadcast on regional sports networks (helping those teams) plus a full playoffs with seven-game series broadcast on ESPN/ABC and TNT. Exactly what the financial picture for the league will be next season is still murky, but the sides are talking.
In terms of pure player safety, the league could have done better going straight to the 16-game postseason, but this was the balance of risk and financial reward the league settled upon.
The details of the format continue to leak out, and some of that is still to be negotiated, but with the player vote all sides have come together behind a plan.
The question becomes, can they pull it off?