The 2019-20 NBA season restart proved to be a success as the games were played without problem. The strict rules and protocols worked as no players tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) after entering the Walt Disney World bubble.
The months-long setting of course concluded with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA title. Now the 2020-21 season is facing its own set of operational problems due to the ongoing pandemic.
The potential plan for a potential start in December is already a heated topic of debate, but there is also the issue of where it would be safe to play games. Cases of COVID-19 have steadily increased throughout the country, so asking teams to constantly travel only increases the risk of infection.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN, the league is discussing a potential solution that includes in-division scheduling and multiple bubble sites:
The NBA is open to the idea of regional pods and intraconference scheduling to lessen team travel and exposure to the coronavirus, sources said. The NBA hopes that it can play games with fans in home arenas in 2020-21, but it has also been exploring the possibility of modeling a bubble environment similar to what Major League Baseball used to finish the 2020 season’s playoffs, sources said.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts previously admitted she believes the 2020-21 season would require some sort of bubble, and it appears she was on par with the NBA’s thinking. Despite proof a bubble works, the idea would probably draw objections from anyone who participated in the Orlando restart and would be considered a non-starter.
The intraconference scheduling is also an interesting solution that seems to be the best way to play multiple games without risking players during travel. Logistically it makes sense, especially if the league wants to end the season on time.
With such a large set of obstacles to tackle, the proposed plan to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22 and have training camp open at the beginning of December would appear to be increasingly unrealistic. Hopefully, though, the NBA and NBPA are able to agree on a plan sooner rather than later.
Lakers would be at disadvantage with starting 2020-21 season in December
The Lakers would have a right to be upset if the proposed Dec. 22 start date is agreed upon because it would deprive them of ample time off to relax and recover.
An earlier start would likely result in Lakers head coach Frank Vogel playing his stars and veterans fewer minutes out the gate, which could lead to a poorer overall record. It is an unfortunate by-product of their championship run, but something they will just have to overcome if it does end up being the case.
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