As the NBA was mulling various scenarios to stage the return of the 2019-20 season, consideration reportedly was given to a bubble location and using multiple cities. Las Vegas pitched the idea of hosting not only the NBA’s return, but WNBA season as well, at its MGM properties.
But by that point all signs were pointing to NBA commissioner Adam Silver deciding on the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, for the return to play. That became official when the league’s board of governors and NBPA both voted to approve a 22-team plan.
The NBA has outlined to players how it intends to establish a campus environment complete with vast amenities and various restrictions in effort to keep players as safe as possible. However, there is only so much the league can do, and recent weeks have seen a surge of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases throughout the state of Florida.
According to Baxter Holmes and Zach Lowe of ESPN, the spike has players, and league and team personnel concerned as the July 30 re-start date sits just over one month away:
The surging number of coronavirus cases in Florida, which posted a record high Saturday for the third consecutive day, has raised concerns in many corners of the NBA, from players to team executives to the league office itself, as it prepares to resume play in Orlando next month.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN that the league is “closely monitoring the data in Florida and Orange County and will continue to work collaboratively with the National Basketball Players Association, public health officials and medical experts regarding our plans.”
Although the NBA’s schedule does not call for the playing of eight seeding games to begin until July 30, the bulk of teams are scheduled to arrive in Orlando on July 7, 8 or 9. However, strict guidelines in Canada has the Toronto Raptors due to report by June 22.
The expectation has been the Raptors would fly into Naples, Florida, and use Florida Gulf Coast University’s Alico Arena as their practice facility. The NBA instructed teams to begin mandatory testing on June 23 in advance of workouts beginning.
Further complicating the NBA’s plan to resume the season and carry out the playoffs at Walt Disney World are the company’s employees not being required to remain in the bubble.
Safety guidelines have indicated Disney employees will wear personal protective equipment when in the bubble and be assigned to a specific hotel rather than rotating. Furthermore, housekeeping will not be conducted while a player is in the room.
If there is any silver lining for the NBA, their timeline still provides an opportunity for the situation to improve in Florida. Local governments have begun to take action in response to the spike, including making masks a requirement when out in public.
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