As the NBA gets further removed from the start of its hiatus amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there are some encouraging signs with respect to resuming the 2019-20 regular season.
Since the league shut down all operations on March 11, there was very little in terms of tangible information that would lead fans to believe the NBA season would return. However, that all changed recently, as the NBA, NBPA, and team officials have been engaged in legitimate discussions about returning to the court.
These discussions involved asking players whether or not they even wanted a return, figuring out how to isolate players without having them feel trapped in a hotel room, and compiling significant testing to be able to constantly ensure the players’ health.
Through all of these discussions, it seems there is finally hope within league circles that the 2019-20 NBA season will return, and that health risks have been minimized, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Owners and executives on the call were encouraged about the league’s progress toward minimizing health risk upon a return and the league office’s positive conversations with the National Basketball Players Association about the players’ desire to eventually restart the season, sources said.
Even with all of the health risks minimized, there still remains the nightmare scenario of someone testing positive while in the bubble. However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants to work with the players to create a plan where one positive test would not derail a return to play:
Discussions centered on health and safety concerns in a return, including the goal of getting team officials and players comfortable with the idea that a positive test for the coronavirus upon a return would not shutter play.
Silver told those on the call that if a positive test would “shut us down, we probably shouldn’t go down this path.”
Obviously, the amount of tests that would need to be available for the NBA to follow through with this is extraordinary. But it seems as though players, team officials, and league executives really want to make this work, and believe they have a plan to do so.
If the NBA can get enough tests to ensure everyone within the bubble has a daily test, they will be able to isolate the infected players as quickly as possible and allow games to continue in the meantime.
Ideally, the bubble scenario would work well enough so that no one is infected upon arrival, and therefore no one can get infected during the remainder of the season.