Now that the NBA has officially settled on a return-to-play plan for the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs, the league has shifted gears toward establishing safety protocols for players and team personnel upon reporting to the Orlando bubble.
Ever since the 2019-20 NBA season was shut down in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic back in March, the league was optimistic about being able to finish out the year with the support of its players. The result is a finalized plan to resume the season in a bubble environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, Fla.
The process has largely been met with overwhelming support from players. After all, the likes of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo, among others, were part of a conference call to band together for the NBA’s return.
However, it appears there are still a segment of players who are on the fence about reporting to the bubble. According ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski the NBA and NBPA are agreeing to terms on a plan for players that may intend to bow out of the eight regular-season seeding games and playoffs:
As a faction of NBA players hold conference calls to discuss uncertainty about restarting the season in the Orlando, Florida, bubble, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association are agreeing on a plan that would allow players to stay home without consequences, sources told ESPN.
There were 40 to 50 players on conference calls over the past 24 hours discussing a number of concerns centered on the restart in Orlando, but there has been no formal petitioning to the NBPA from any group wanting out of the 22-team resumption, sources said.
Players who decide against participating in Orlando could be replaced by a substitution player, sources told ESPN.
The league has put an emphasis on ensuring player and staff safety for its bubble location set to take place in late July by establishing a protocol that anyone who tests positive for coronavirus, suffers any serious injury, or chooses to leave the bubble environment could be quarantined anywhere from seven to 14 days.
The NBA has also started putting together a panel of physicians to oversee the process of eliminating any risk of serious illness. While it remains to be seen if they will have the authority to hand down any further restrictions, it will be another resource to help them monitor the health risks involved for certain individuals making the trip.
Regardless, there are still players that are weighing risks involved and reports indicate that the NBA is not obligating any of them to go through with the remainder of the season. Teams will have the option to replace anyone that chooses not to make the trip or suffer any other health issues from a pool of players that will only feature those that are signed with an NBA team or any of its affiliates.