Although the NBA was able to finalize a plan for 22 teams to finish out the 2019-20 season in a bubble environment at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, there was still some concern regarding the effects the prolonged hiatus would have on the remaining eight teams.
The league was effectively forced to shut down operations back in March due to the restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While there was always optimism about a return to action, the health risks involved did not offer up much incentive for non-playoff teams.
As a result, the NBA decided to move forward with only those that are in the postseason picture or just outside it. They are due to play eight regular-season seeding games at the end of the month before the playoffs begin.
Fortunately, it appears they have also come up with a plan to ensure that the league as a whole is staying active. According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, the NBA is working on opening up a second bubble in Chicago for the eight leftover teams:
The NBA is closing in on signing off on a second “bubble” in Chicago for the eight teams that were not invited to play in Florida, enabling them to participate in a mini-training camp and subsequent games against other clubs with a target date of September, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
The report adds that there are still teams that need time to mull it over as the number of positive coronavirus cases continue to increase:
Some teams have pushed for a two-week delay before signing off on the second bubble, as concerns over the number of NBA players testing positive for the coronavirus increases and the number of cases spike in Florida.
The reduced number of players and staff should help to minimize the risks despite the growing number of cases. Regardless, rumors indicate that NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is vying for Chicago to use the same safety protocols that will be introduced in Orlando.
The NBA still has yet to determine how the format would play out, however, many assume it would be similar to that of Summer League. Teams are hoping to hold their own mini-camps while deciding on centralized locations where scrimmages can be held.
It has been deemed a foregone conclusion that the timeline for the 2020-21 NBA season would be pushed back due to the circumstances. The onus now fails on the league to ensure that every team has an opportunity to get back on track.
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