The league has ramped up its efforts for a potential return to the 2019-20 NBA season after it was suspended in early March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
There appears to be growing optimism that the NBA will be able to crown a champion this season. Of course, the league has acknowledged that the biggest challenge will be ensuring player safety through viable testing protocols.
Of late the NBA seemingly focused on a plan that called for play to resume in one or multiple bubble cities — with Walt Disney World and Las Vegas the most viable options. It now appears Orlando has emerged as a frontrunner.
But as the NBA works on finalizing a location, they also are determining various other decisions, such as teams hosting training camps, establishing safety protocols and more, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times:
Among NBA return-to-play scenarios being discussed, league sources say, is a template calling for teams to conduct Training Camp 2.0 in their own practice facilities before heading to one or two centralized sites to resume play, with Orlando and Las Vegas still vying for games. Some of the key return-to-play items that the NBA continues to work on as it weighs restarting the season in July:
*Settling on a game venue(s) — Orlando said to be in the lead and Vegas still vying
*Pinpointing dates for teams to start reporting to a centralized site
*Finalizing a detailed set of safety protocols a la MLB
*Establishing consistent, leaguewide COVID-19 testing guidelines for all 30 teams
*Determining whether all 30 teams or just playoff teams (or a mix) would be summoned to play in the NBA’s “campus” environment
It is safe to say that the league has quite a laundry list of tasks to meet if they hope to make this plan come to fruition. Regardless, it is encouraging to see that the framework for a potential return already seems to be in place.
Fortunately, the NBA may very well be able to piggyback off the proposal that MLB reportedly sent to the MLBPA regarding an array of safety protocols. This includes checking athletes’ temperatures daily, asking players to shower at home, and using a new ball after one is put in play and touched by multiple players.
Commissioner Adam Silver has already acknowledged the prospect of playing in arenas without any fans and is also expected to announce a decision on whether or not the NBA will return at some point in mid-June. As a result, teams may very well use this time to get started on another potential training camp.