Adam Silver updates players on return: No date yet (think June), no fans, but 7-game series

Adam Silver bubble
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Unlike the NFL’s “put our head down and plow ahead” strategy, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is going to gather every bit of information he can on the coronavirus and a return to play, try to build a consensus, and in the end not make a decision until he has to.

Which means don’t expect a decision on the return of this season until June, Silver told NBA players in a conference call Friday set up by the union.

The goal of the call was to give players an update on where things stand, and Silver was very transparent according to multiple people on the call who spoke to NBC Sports. Silver also was honest that the situation is still fluid as the nation struggles with the coronavirus (more than 1.2 million cases and 62,000 deaths, with both numbers still climbing).

The plans Silver discussed would be to have fan-less bubbles — likely the West in Las Vegas and the East at the Disney resort in Orlando — where the league could host games (maybe regular season games, but Silver added he hoped for 7-game playoff series) that would be televised.

NBC Sports has spoken to people in on the call, plus Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had other details. Here are the key points:

• No decision on a return to play — and what form that would take — needs to be made until June.
• If this season resumes, there will be no fans at the games.
• If this season resumes expect games at one or two locations, with Las Vegas and the Disney resort at Orlando the spots Silver mentioned (however, other sites are on the table).
• To return there would need to be extensive testing — enough to have daily tests of players, ideally, Silver said, more than 10,000 total tests — and the ability to have those without taking tests away from cities/states where they are needed.
• If testing is often enough, a player who tests positive could be isolated without having to shut everything down.
• If the league restarts, there will be at least three weeks of a training camp before games begin.
• Silver said all 30 owners are willing to bring teams back for regular season games (there have been concerns from owners of teams well out of the playoffs about the point of the extra expenses). However, he admitted that as the lockdown heads into the summer it may not be possible to play enough games for teams out of the playoffs to catch teams already in, and the league could go straight to the postseason.
• It’s possible there will be no fans at games at the start of — or maybe through much of — next season if there is not a widely-available vaccine. Silver tried to make this very clear to players.
• The league is taking an unprecedented financial hit, with 40 percent of league’s revenue coming from fans in the form of ticket sales and game revenue, not to mention merchandise sales.
• That, and the television games lost this season, mean both the players and owners are going to have to make financial sacrifices, with Silver emphasizing that hard decisions are coming and he wants to work with players on those. But not everyone is going to be happy.

There were plenty of questions from players on the logistics of going back to play, the opening of team workout facilities, and more. The players were curious.

Silver was open but emphasized right now there are no hard-and-fast answers. As of today, there are not enough tests to restart play, and there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in parts of the country, all of which makes it smarter to wait before making any decision.

Silver tried to paint an optimistic but realistic picture — games may return this summer, but the league will not be back to “normal” for years. If ever. And the coming changes will not be painless.


Watch Trae Young get ejected for launching ball at referee


Trae Young screwed up and he knew it.

“It’s just a play he can’t make,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said via the Associated Press after the game. “I told him that. He knows it.”

With the score tied at 84 in the third quarter, Young had a 3-pointer disallowed and an offensive foul called on him for tripping the Pacers’ Aaron Nesmith. A frustrated Young picked up a technical foul for something he said.

Then walking back to the bench, Young turned and launched the ball at the referee with two hands. It was an instant ejection.


“There wasn’t a single part of him that tried to rationalize what happened,” Snyder said.

Young can expect a fine for this. It also was his 15th technical of the season, one more and he will get an automatic one-game suspension.

The Hawks went on to win 143-130, improving Atlanta to .500 at 37-37 and keeping them solidly as the No. 8 seed in the East.

Report: ‘Strong optimism’ Anthony Edwards could return to Timberwolves Sunday

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
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What looked so bad when it happened may only cost Anthony Edwards three games.

Edwards rolled his ankle last week but could be back Sunday when the Timberwolves travel to Golden State, reports Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports.

Edwards is averaging 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this season, and he has stepped up to become the team’s primary shot-creator with Karl-Anthony Towns out for much of the season. The Timberwolves have been outscored by 3.4 points per 100 possessions when Edwards is off the court this season.

Towns returned to action a couple of games ago, and with Edwards on Sunday it will be the first time since November the Timberwolves will have their entire core on the court — now with Mike Conley at the point. With the Timberwolves tied for the No.7 seed in an incredibly tight West (they are 1.5 games out of sixth but also one game out of missing the postseason entirely) it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s also not much time to develop of fit and chemistry the team will need in the play-in, and maybe the playoffs.

Nets announce Ben Simmons diagnosed with nerve impingement in back, out indefinitely

NBA: FEB 24 Nets at Bulls
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Ben Simmons — who has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup all season and often struggled when on the court — is out indefinitely due to a nerve impingement in his back, the team announced Friday.

A nerve impingement — sometimes called a pinched nerve — is when a bone or other tissue compresses a nerve. Simmons has a history of back issues going back to his time in Philadelphia, and he had a microdiscectomy about a year ago, after he was traded to Brooklyn.

With two weeks and nine games left in the season, logic would suggest Simmons is done for the season. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Thursday that Simmons has done some individual workouts but nothing with teammates, however, he would not say Simmons is shut down for the season or would not participate in the postseason with Brooklyn.

Simmons had not played since the All-Star break when he got PRP injections to help deal with ongoing knee soreness. When he has played this season offense has been a struggle, he has been hesitant to shoot outside a few feet from the basket and is averaging 6.9 points a game. Vaughn used him mainly as a backup center.

Simmons has two fully guaranteed years and $78 million remaining on his contract after this season. While Nets fans may want Simmons traded, his injury history and that contract will make it very difficult to do so this summer (Brooklyn would have to add so many sweeteners it wouldn’t be worth it).

The Nets have slid to the No.7 seed in the West — part of the play-in — and have a critical game with the Heat on Saturday night.

Frustration rising within Mavericks, ‘We got to fight hard, play harder’


If the postseason started today, the Dallas Mavericks would miss out — not just the playoffs but also the play-in.

The Mavericks fell to the No.11 seed in the West (tied with the Thunder for 10th) after an ugly loss Friday night to a tanking Hornets team playing without LaMelo Ball and on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas is 3-7 with both Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić playing, and with this latest loss fans booed the Mavericks. What was Jason Kidd’s reaction? Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“We probably should have been booed in the first quarter,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said…. “The interest level [from players] wasn’t high,” Kidd said. “It was just disappointing.”

That was a little different than Kyrie Irving’s reaction to the boos.

Then there is franchise cornerstone Luka Dončić, who sounded worn down, by the season and the losing in Dallas.

“We got to fight hard, play harder. That’s about it. We got to show we care and it starts with me first. I’ve just got to lead this team, being better, playing harder. It’s on me….

“I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s me. I’m just being out there. I used to have really fun, smiling on court, but it’s just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”

Dončić would not elaborate on what, outside basketball, has frustrated him.

Look at seeds 5-10 in the West and you see teams that have struggled but have the elite talent and experience to be a postseason threat: The Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, plus Kevin Durant is expected back next week), the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry and the four-time champions), the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis and maybe before the season ends LeBron James).

Should the Mavericks be in that class? On paper yes, they have clutch playoff performers of the past in Dončić and Irving, but an energy-less loss to Charlotte showed a team lacking the chemistry and fire right now that teams like the Lakers (beating the Thunder) and Warriors (beating the 76ers) showed on the same night.

The Mavericks feel like less of a playoff threat, especially with their defensive concerns. They don’t have long to turn things around — and get into the postseason.