That’s when players on the remaining eight teams – those reaching the second round of the playoffs – can have family present in the bubble.
Sources say the Clippers have been the most vocal when it comes to pushing for more family and friends to be allowed earlier in the timeline, with their routinely-stated hope (via weekly calls between the NBA and front office executives) that the league will eventually allow at least one family member or friend to join players at the start of the first round.
“They’re fighting for that,” a rival GM said.
But they’re certainly not alone.
While the players are the focus — and with good reason — the unwelcome reality for everyone else is that all other NBA staff (front office executives, coaches, trainers, media relations folks et al) have to say goodbye to their families for the entirety of the time in Orlando. Several GMs expressed significant disappointment at this fact, not only for themselves but for their employees as well.
A source said Boston coach Brad Stevens has consistently pushed the league to reconsider its ruling that the families of staff members will not be allowed.
Generally, there’s a tradeoff between safety from coronavirus and comfort. Want to avoid coronavirus? Stay away from people and, to a lesser degree, where people have been. But that can be a miserable way to live.
Everyone is trying to find the right balance.
The rising case count in Florida could make the NBA more – not less – restrictive. Every additional person in the bubble is someone who could sneak out and back in. The higher risk of contracting coronavirus in the surrounding area, the more dangerous that becomes. Even if they don’t leave the bubble, additional people could spread coronavirus from someone who brought it in. There’s danger on multiple fronts.
On the other hand, essential people in the bubble might not adhere to overly strict rules. If they can’t have family and friends join, players and staff could be more likely to sneak sneak out themselves or sneak in someone – again, even riskier given the numbers in Florida. Without family and friends present, players could face mental-health issues. There’s danger on multiple fronts.
Hopefully, everyone involved finds the optimal balance. But there’s no great answer. Coronavirus is the problem, and it looms over everything.