The eight teams teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s resumption at Disney World – Knicks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Hawks, Hornets, Timberwolves and Warriors – are reportedly considering a second bubble in Chicago.
Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports:
Talked to an executive on the call this morning among the 7 teams discussing rough parameters of a 2nd bubble scenario. The source was blindsided by today’s report. “I’m shocked. There was definitely no consensus.” Another source: “I’d be surprised if it happens.”
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) July 2, 2020
K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:
Regarding the potential second bubble in Chicago, this scenario would need to be agreed to by the players association. Work remains on that front, I’m told. If hurdles get cleared, Wintrust Arena makes sense from logistical standpoint because it’s connected to a hotel.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 2, 2020
A safe operation, like the one at Disney World, comes with two major drawbacks:
1. It’s expensive. Accommodations, frequent coronavirus testing, transporting equipment to the site – it adds up.
2. It’s burdensome for participants. They’ll be separated from family and friends in order to limit coronavirus exposure points.
Will a second bubble produce enough money to justify its existence? I doubt it. These eight teams are done with meaningful games. Maybe it’s worth fulfilling local TV contracts, but that’s a narrow needle to thread. The product would be lousy.
Players on these eight teams will reportedly receive the same share of salaries as players going to Disney World. If that becomes no longer guaranteed unless reporting to a second bubble, perhaps players would be compelled to go. But it’s hard to see much enthusiasm – especially among impending free agents, who should protect their health. Any notable players with injury concerns, like Golden State star Stephen Curry, would also likely be held out.
Many people within these eight teams want to keep playing. There’s concern about a long layoff and a natural desire to do something to improve. But the continuing 22 teams will have historically short layoffs. Extra rest might be an advantage. It’s a completely unprecedented situation. Nobody knows which group – the 22 teams or the eight teams – will be better-prepared for next season.
Amid that the uncertainty of the benefits – and the very clear and high costs – there’s plenty of reason to doubt a second bubble gets off the ground.
But the plan’s supporters have at least enough momentum to make it a discussion.