John Bazemore/Associated Press
Eight of the NBA‘s 30 teams will not be invited to Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to finish the 2019-20 campaign, which is scheduled to restart July 30 after a near five-month suspension because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That raises the question of how those teams will stem the competitive basketball tide between March 11, when the season was suspended, and Dec. 1, when the NBA is looking to begin the 2020-21 season.
Those teams looked to hold mandatory offseason activities this summer, but the NBA and the NBPA squashed that plan, per Marc Berman of the New York Post:
“The eight teams not involved in the Orlando restart were pushing for mandatory Organized Team Activities to make up for missing out on the Orlando restart. But the NBA and its players association won’t allow any of it to be mandatory, according to sources.
“Some teams — not the Knicks — lobbied to have a one-site summer-league tournament with the eight teams, but the massive COVID-19 protocols in Orlando are too complex to implement for random teams, sources say.“
NBPA director Michele Roberts noted safety concerns for those OTAs amid the COVID-19 pandemic during a Friday conference call:
“Candidly, while I appreciate that there will be a bit of a layoff, I think there are some things these teams can do to get the guys that are not playing some [benefit] by their not being involved in Orlando. But unless we could replicate in every way the protocol that’s been established for Orlando, I’d be — I’m being tame now — suspicious.”
Berman wrote that there would be an issue with players practicing at facilities and going home like normal, which would be a stark contrast to the bubble-like environment players will be in during their stay in Florida, where they’ll effectively be quarantined from the general populace minus Disney World staffers.
The NBA invited 22 teams to finish the 2019-20 campaign: the top eight in the Eastern and Western Conferences and the six teams within six games of a playoff spot in either conference.
By virtue of not falling into either category this year, the Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors likely won’t play a regular-season game until at least Dec. 1.
That would mean almost nine months without organized basketball in meaningful games for the players on those teams.
The Knicks, in particular, were looking to do a weeklong minicamp with their younger players in hopes of allowing their new coach some time to work with them before Nov. 6, when 2020-21 camp is expected to start. New York’s coaching position is currently vacant.
The NBA hasn’t yet rejected the idea of teams working out informally while practicing proper social-distancing rules, although those sessions would have to be voluntary and follow “strict guidelines,” per Berman.
In the meantime, individual players are allowed to work out alone at team facilities with COVID-19 restrictions in place.