Los Angeles Lakers veteran Jared Dudley has been one of the league’s most important figures during the ongoing hiatus. Dudley is known for his willingness to speak out on issues while remaining open and honest with fans, and that hasn’t changed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While the NBA continues to figure out a return-to-play plan, Dudley has communicated via his Twitter account his feelings about what the league is doing. He even shared details of conference calls with Commissioner Adam Silver.
Through all of this, Dudley has maintained the players need – at the very least – four weeks of preparation before games can resume. And with practice facilities already open, it’s safe to say he’ll get his wish.
Dudley reacted to the news that the NBA is targeting July 31 as the date for resumption of games, which would give players just over two months to prepare, via Dudley on Twitter:
2 months to get ready! Plenty of time! ???????? https://t.co/vPx7qnn88J
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) May 29, 2020
While a July 31 return date certainly seems late, as games would probably need to continue into October, this does give everyone involved sufficient time to plan and prepare.
For the league, it gives them ample opportunity to settle on a format and logistics that come with it, along with testing and other safety protocols. For the players, they’ll now have enough time to train in their home markets and in the Orlando bubble without risking injury.
It feels almost guaranteed that the 2020-21 season will begin in December or even later, which means finishing the NBA Finals in October may not be that bad of a solution. The 2020 NBA Draft would take place shortly after the completion of this season, free agency would begin directly after that, and training camps would start up at the end of November.
The NBA, its players, and the fans are going to need to be very flexible for a little while as everybody navigates this pandemic. There is no fool-proof solution, and all options will carry some level of risk.
For now, the NBA looks to have minimized the injury risk to players by giving them a full two months to get back into game shape before the 2019-20 season can resume.