The NBA will return on Dec. 22 for a season that has teams playing in their home arenas — more similar to how the NFL and MLB seasons took place — but with few fans and a lot of coronavirus precautions and restrictions.
However, the bubble could be back — for the G-League.
Without the massive television contracts and the financial incentive to return to close to a full season that the NBA has, the NBA’s 28-team developmental league is trying to figure out what its next season looks like. The bubble, or smaller regional bubbles, are on the table, reports Harrison Faigen at Silver Screen and Roll.
The NBA G League and its teams are currently considering the possibility of playing a 2020-21 season that would take place either fully or partially in a bubble, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation…
Scenarios on the table in these nascent conversations include a full season in a bubble, or targeting 24 games (possibly over 6-8 weeks) in a bubble followed by some travel afterwards. The possibility of regional bubbles are also being discussed, sources say. G League teams were informed that the goal is to play out a full season in some form or another as the NBA neared its own agreement with players to return. A normal G League season is 50 games long.
The NBA’s bubble in Orlando was expensive to pull off — $190 million — and the G-League is not going to have that kind of money to spend. But with travel being a challenge as G-League teams fly commercial jets and don’t stay in five-star hotels, the idea of some form of regional bubbles makes sense.
We could still see the annual G-League Showcase event, where all 28 teams come to Vegas (making it easier for scouts and front office personnel to see the players in person) for a series of games in a tournament style. It will not take place the week before Christmas, as is traditional, but it could happen in its traditional home in Las Vegas in the winter or early spring.
With the likelihood that teams will have flexibility on call-ups and contracts next season to fill roster spots temporarily open due to players testing positive for COVID-19, the G-League and having a pool of players to draw from will matter. The G-League has become a key part of teams’ player development programs as well, and teams will not want that to stop.
There will be some form of a G-League season. What that will look like and how many games are questions still up in the air.