What life will be like inside the NBA bubble in Orlando

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Starting July 7, life inside the NBA bubble for 22 teams of players and team staff will be ruled by a 108-page health and safety protocol handbook — one written in a tiny, Apple warranty sized font. The handbook dictates the rules about anything and everything with the NBA’s return to play.

What is in the handbook? What will life inside the NBA bubble be like?

Here is an outline based on sources who spoke to NBC Sports about the rules and regulations, plus reports from other media.

ARRIVAL

• From July 7 to 9, players will arrive at the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando. Team arrivals will be spread out over three days to avoid congestions.

• Upon arrival, players will be quarantined in their hotel room until they have two negative coronavirus tests 24 hours apart. After that, players will be tested “regularly,” according to the handbook, although that could be daily or close to it for much of the time in Orlando.

• What hotels are the players at? Here’s the breakdown.

The Grand Destino is considered the primary player hotel, and if a lower seed team advances far enough they may be asked to move to the Grand Destino from their hotel.

• Yes, the Orlando Magic have to stay in an Orlando hotel. Letting them go home would defeat the point of a bubble.

• Each player will be given a “MagicBand” — a bracelet that serves as a room key and wallet throughout the hotel and Disney property. It also will be used to check-in players for testing.

• Players also can wear a “proximity alarm” that will notify the wearer if he or she spends more than five seconds within six feet of another person with the alarm. All team and league staff will be required to wear these.

• Everyone will be required to wear a facemask, except when eating, at a workout or practice, in their room, or if they are swimming or doing something more than six feet away from another person (laying out by the pool with nobody around).

• All the food will be cooked by Disney chefs on-site, and each team will work with a “culinary team” that will make every effort to design a menu that fits dietary needs of each team. Players can have private chefs who prepare meals off-site, which can be brought into the players.

• Disney is open to setting up dining experience for players/teams at some of the restaurants on the Disney property but outside the bubble area, or having that food brought into the bubble, according to friend of this site Keith Smith.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO WHILE IN THE BUBBLE?

• The hotels will have a players-only lounge area (with televisions and gaming areas, including NBA 2K, of course), plus barbers, manicures and spa services, and more. There also will be movie screenings, some DJ sets, cards for booray games, bowling (Chris Paul will be there nightly), and other games such as ping pong — but players are not allowed to play doubles. Seriously.

• There are pools at the hotels that will be open for use by the players. There will be hiking and biking trails for use by the players.

• There will be golf available, but no caddies. Doc Rivers is going to have to carry his own clubs.

• Players are encouraged to stay in the bubble. Arrangements to leave for major life events or emergencies — the birth of a child, sick relative, wedding — can be made with the league, but the league has to be informed and as far in advance as is possible.

• While players are allowed to leave the campus/bubble, he will face a 10-14 day quarantine upon his return and will have to have two negative tests. Also, the player will not be paid for any games missed.

• Any team staff that violates the rules of the bubble or leaves the bubble without prior approval will be removed and cannot return to the Disney campus. Teams will not be able to replace that person.

• Players and staff will have to sign a document saying they will abide by the rules of the bubble.

• There will be a hotline set up where players or staff can call and report a violation of the health and safety rules in the bubble. Insert your own Chris Paul “his mask is untucked” joke here (or how every Clipper is going to call and say LeBron James is in violation of the rules).

IF A PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE

• If — or, to be more practical, when — a player tests positive inside the NBA bubble he will immediately be moved to a separate location termed “isolation housing.” The NBA is looking at some rental homes outside the Disney property to use for this.

• The player will be retested to make sure this was not a false positive.

• Teams and the league will more closely monitor and test anyone who was in close proximity to that player between tests.

• The player can return to the bubble and his team after consecutive negative tests.

• A memo to teams told them the games would not stop because of a positive test and to be prepared for that. The exact quote is, “the occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel” the season restart. (What happens if one team has multiple positive tests impacting key rotation players will be something to watch.)

GAMES AND PRACTICES

Games inside the NBA bubble will take place at one of three facilities:
• The HP Field House will be the primary game court, it is broadcast ready.
• The Arena will have a game broadcast court plus has a couple of side practice courts.
• The Visa Center has a court that can be used for game broadcasts, but this will primarily be a practice facility.
• All three areas have weight and training areas, in addition to modern locker rooms (although not ones as nice as teams have at their home arenas).

• There will be about four hours between games, allowing time for a complete sanitization of the court, plus time for teams to do their standard pregame-warmup routines.

• There will be about 5-7 games a day during the seeding rounds, with some games not starting until 10-10:30 p.m. Eastern (which is 7:30 on the West Coast, a standard start time for the Lakers, Clippers, and Trail Blazers).

• Benches at the games will have two rows, just like at a regular NBA game. The players and coaches on the front bench do not have to wear masks (although it is encouraged for coaches), but coaches and trainers on the second row of the bench must wear masks.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.

As he chases record, LeBron says he has ‘no relationship’ with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Later this season, health permitting, LeBron James will pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Kareem has said LeBron has earned it, but also has called out LeBron on COVID issues (something Abdul-Jabbar apologized for). Have the two legends started to build a relationship as LeBron marches toward the record? Not so much.

“No thoughts, no relationship.”

This question was asked of LeBron days after Abdul-Jabbar slammed former LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving in a Substack newsletter, calling him a “comical buffoon” and saying he is a poor role model. Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal proponent of getting the vaccine, Irving remains unvaccinated, and LeBron has posted on social media questioning the severity of the virus and the response. Plus, LeBron and Irving are friends, which could have sparked LeBron’s terse response (as could the fact he was ready to get out of the arena after a dull preseason game).

A week earlier at media day, LeBron had been kinder when discussing Abdul-Jabbar and chasing his record.

“And you know, obviously Kareem has had his differences, with some of my views and some of the things that I do. But listen, at the end of the day, to be able to be right in the same breath as a guy to wear the same [Lakers] uniform, a guy that was a staple of this franchise along with Magic and Big Game [James Worthy] over there for so many years, especially in the 80s, and a guy that does a lot off the floor as well,” LeBron said. “I think it’s just super duper dope for myself to be even in that conversation.”

Abdul-Jabbar has been more of a public persona in recent years, both around the game of basketball and discussing social justice issues through his writings. The NBA named its new social justice award after him. With that has come new relationships around the league.

One of those is not with LeBron. Will Abdul-Jabbar be in the building when LeBron does break the record?

We’ve got months for this relationship to evolve — if it does — before that big day.

 

Watch Zion Williamson score 13 in return to court for Pelicans

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Zion Williamson is back.

He certainly looked in better shape and flashed his insane explosiveness on his way to 13 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes Tuesday night against the Bulls, his first game after missing all of last season following foot surgery.

There was some rust, and the Pelicans are wisely bringing him along slowly and not breaking out the entire playbook for a preseason game, but in the moments we saw Zion looked like he was all the way back.

The questions now are can he sustain it, and how to the Pelicans mesh him with other scoring options in CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram.

And maybe we shouldn’t leave rookie Dyson Daniels off that list, he looked good in his first NBA preseason game.

The Pelicans are one of the most intriguing teams this season, a team that made the playoffs last season with a push after McCollum arrived, and now they add the elite interior scoring and athleticism of Zion to Ingram’s outside shot and slashing, not to mention and a solid core of role players. This team has top six potential if it can get stops. But in a deep West, nothing will be easy.