Deadline day: By June 24 NBA players reportedly must tell teams they will not play in restart

NBA Deadline June 24
Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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Players are free to choose not to take part in the NBA’s restart in Orlando, and there will be no repercussions, no punishment for their choice (other than they will not be paid for those games). A coalition of players, led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley, has questioned if the players should take part in the restart and how that will impact the Black Lives Matter movement (among other concerns).

NBA players have a deadline of June 24 to make their decision, a week from Wednesday.

All that and more according to a memo the National Basketball Players’ Association sent out to players Tuesday, which was obtained by Shams Charania of The Athletic. Here is the key paragraph:

“It is critical that every player understand that he has the right to choose not to return to play. Any player who exercises this right will not be disciplined. To respect the decision of those who do return to play, it has been agreed that any player who chooses not to participate will have his compensation reduced by 1/92.6 for each game missed up to a cap of 14 games even his team plays more than 14 games in Orlando. There will be no other reductions of pay assessed (e.g., fines for missed practices) for a player’s decision not to return to play. Any player that wishes to exercise this right should notify his team of this election by June 24.”

The 1/92.6 is the per-game pay calculation used in the CBA for pay lost in case of a catastrophic stoppage of play, such as a pandemic. Players already will lose some salary for canceled games this season and the reduction of league revenue; if a player chooses not to go to Orlando for the restart, he will forfeit another 8/92.6ths of his salary on top of what is already lost.

The memo reportedly said a manual of rules and regulations — essentially a “life inside the bubble” manual — is still being created by the NBA in consultation with scientists at the CDC. It has yet to be released but is expected to be soon.

One thing in there: Players are allowed to leave the campus or bubble, but they are asked to get prior approval. If a player or staff member leaves without prior approval they face a 10-14 day quarantine upon their return and will not get paid for any seeding games in that window.

The report also lays out a six-phase plan for a return of games.

• Phase 1, June 12-22 (the phase the league is currently in): Players report to their home market and they can do individual workouts under social distancing guidelines. The only team not going to a home market is the Toronto Raptors, who are working out a facility in Naples, Florida, because of the quarantine times for players flying into Canada from their home markets outside that country.

• Phase 2, June 23-30: Same as Phase 1 except teams will do mandatory coronavirus testing of players — a simple nasal or oral swab, plus a blood antibody test — and players are asked to self-quarantine at home, leaving only for workouts and essential activities.

• Phase 3, July 1-7 (maybe a couple of days later, depending on the team): Mandatory individual workouts for the players at the team facility, with up to eight players at a time in the building, but no group workouts. The head coach can now attend the workouts.

• Phase 4, July 7-11: Teams fly charters to Orlando and, once they arrive at the Walt Disney World property they must stay quarantined in their rooms until they have two negative coronavirus tests 24 hours apart. Everyone has to wear a facemask at all times in public (except when eating or working out). NBA staff will wear a proximity alarm that lets them know if they have been within six feet of someone with alarm for more than five seconds (players don’t have to wear these alarms, it’s optional).

• Phase 4B, July 11-21: Teams can engage in group workouts, a mini-training camp. There will be daily coronavirus testing of players and staff. Players can play golf, video games, have meals (outside), and generally have social interactions with players from other teams (and hotels, the players are not all in one hotel), however they are asked to maintain social distancing. Disney chefs will provide food, there is room service, and if a player wants he can have a private chef send prepared food into the bubble.

Phase 5: July 22-30: Teams continue to workout but now also have scrimmages against the other teams in their hotel. Individual player workouts aside from the team practices also can take place.

Phase 6: July 30-Oct. 13: The games begin, first the eight seeding games per team followed by full 16-team NBA playoffs, all following a previously announced timeline. Players can bring family or friends into the Disney campus after the end of the first round of the playoffs, but they have to follow the same guidelines as the players do, they cannot leave the bubble.