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Is Orlando the frontrunner for NBA’s ‘bubble’ if play returns?

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When talk of the NBA playing games without fans in a “bubble” first came up, Las Vegas became the natural first thought: Plenty of hotel rooms, venues where the league already plays Summer League, and the NBA and city have a strong relationship.

Almost as fast, there became real questions about if Las Vegas would really work for a bubble. On the one hand, it’s an open city and the UNLV campus (where the summer league games are played) is open, meaning it would be difficult to keep fans from just showing up at the hotel or venue trying to see their favorite players. Plus, keeping players and staff inside the bubble and not exploring the, um, distractions Las Vegas is known for would be difficult.

Which is why Orlando — specifically, the Walt Disney World property — appears to have moved to the front of the line for the NBA’s bubble city, if it happens.

Good friend of this site Keith Smith detailed weeks ago why the Walt Disney World complex made sense for Yahoo Sports. It has plenty of hotel rooms. More importantly, it has the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which already hosts major hoops events, has multiple facilities that can host games and practices, plus it’s all broadcast ready. Also, it has to be noted that ESPN/Disney are broadcast partners with the league.

However, it is the fact Walt Disney World is private property that is the most significant selling point.

Unlike many of the other locations mentioned as single-site candidates, Walt Disney World is private property. That includes not only the hotels and [ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex], but the immediate surrounding area as well. In effect, Disney can create a bubble by closing off streets and denying access to any area with relative ease. Some of the other potential locations may be able to restrict access to hotels/housing and the basketball facilities, but closing down the surrounding public areas would be difficult.

Meaning it is not only easier to keep fans and the public out, it is much easier to keep the players and staff in, rather than hopping around the city.

There are still a lot of challenges with creating a bubble that works: What about the hotel cleaning staff, do they come in and out of the bubble? What about the cooks and food for all these players and staff? Will close family be able to go with the players and stay in the bubble? Will there be enough available testing that the bubble can be created without taking needed tests and medical personnel away from hot spots where the disease is flaring up?

There may be no season. Adam Silver has said data will drive the NBA’s decision, and that call is not being made on May 1. However, with NBA practice facilities likely opening for a lot of teams on May 8, the possibility of games seems more realistic. If we, as a nation, can get on top of this disease and numbers start to fall in terms of new infections (and not just because we can’t test people, but really falling), the idea of basketball returning seems more likely.

If the NBA does return to play out this postseason, bet on Orlando as the host (or at least one of the hosts).

Lou Williams admits “I probably could have made a better quality decision”

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Lou Williams is far from the first man to regret a trip to a strip club — or to be put in a kind of “time out” for it.

Williams was out of quarantine and back on the court for the Clippers Tuesday and afterward owned up to the mistake of swinging by the Magic City strip club in Atlanta to pick up some food while he was out.

“Well, in hindsight, I think as far as the public safety issue goes, I probably could have made a better quality decision. I was a little naive in that aspect,” Williams said after Devin Booker ripped L.A.’s heart out. “I went somewhere after a viewing of somebody I considered a mentor, somebody I looked up to, first black man I seen with legal money in my life.

“The funeral home was a couple blocks away from one of my favorite restaurants. It’s been documented how much I talk about this place, how much I eat there. I just did something that was routine for me. I frequent that place at that time of day, 5:30, 6:00 in the afternoon. At the time I thought I was making a responsible decision.

“After looking back on it, with everything going on in the world, the pandemic, maybe it wasn’t the best quality decision. I chalk it up that that, take my L and keep moving.”

Williams had been granted permission to leave the NBA’s restart bubble in Orlando to attend the memorial in Atlanta. But he detoured by the Magic City strip club in Atlanta for some grub — the club does sell “LouWill lemon pepper BBQ wings” although a worker at the club said she gave Williams a dance while he was there. However, the league’s concern was not the food or what goes on in the club, it’s the other people in a confined indoor space who were not following the same safety protocols Williams was supposed to be observing. That’s what got him a 10-day quarantine. Thanks a lot, rapper Jack Harlow.

What did Williams do for 10 days?

“I was able to finish a couple of books. I did some crossword puzzles,” he said. “I had 10 minutes to pack up my room, so I was able to get out my studio stuff. I stayed engaged on Zoom with the practices. Had 30 minutes to work out every day.”

Williams, on a minutes restriction, had 7 points on 3-of-8 shooting on Tuesday. His bench pick-and-roll partner, Montrezl Harrell, is still outside the bubble after the death of his grandmother. The Clippers will need both of them at full strength once the playoffs roll around.

Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams

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The on-again, off-again idea of a second bubble? The on-again, off-again idea of the eight NBA teams not continuing at Disney World even scrimmaging or practicing?

It’s all looking unlikely.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.

“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.

Besides, are these eight teams watching the high level of play in the bubble? After a long layoff, teams look energetic and fresh. Long offseasons could give the eight eliminated teams an advantage next season.

Playing basketball safely amid the coronavirus pandemic is costly – both in terms of operational expenses and lifestyle sacrifices for participants. It’s worthwhile for the continuing 22 teams because the revenue being produced by the resumption.

That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.

I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.

Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season with torn left meniscus

Jaren Jackson torn meniscus
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Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 22 points and was the best Grizzlies player against the Pelicans on Monday night, showing off his athleticism and touch from three.

He also tore the meniscus in his left knee during the game, the Grizzlies announced Tuesday.

Even with the short offseason, Jackson should be ready to play at the start of next season.

This is a serious blow to the Grizzlies, who are 0-3 in the bubble and now just lost their best player through those three games. He has been the best source of offense for the Grizzlies in the bubble, feasting on defenders who cannot match his speed.

Jackson, a 6’11” big out of Michigan State, averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game this season, shooting 39.4% from three. He’s still developing, but he looks like a classic modern big — can protect the rim, can post up or make plays from the elbow, and can shoot the three — who is developing a strong chemistry with Ja Morant. They could be the cornerstones of the Grizzlies’ future.

First, Jackson has to get healthy.

Watch Devin Booker drain turnaround game-winner to beat Clippers

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Devin Booker is a serious problem.

The Suns All-Star guard scored his 34th and 35th points of the night on a turnaround game-winner at the buzzer= over Paul George — who defended him well. He called game.

Ivica Zubac opened the door for Booker to win it. The Suns had the ball with 31 seconds to go and the Clippers — Kawhi Leonard in particular — defended it well, forcing Ricky Rubio into a difficult, high-arcing shot he missed. Zubac did a good job grabbing the rebound, but then he hurried the outlet pass and Mikal Bridges tipped it, Deandre Ayton grabbed it, and the Suns got to reset and take one more shot.

Devin Booker took the final shot, a game-winner. That man is a problem.

The bubble Suns are now 3-0.