As the NBA attempts to play a full season outside of a bubble amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the G League — which has not played any games since March — is choosing a different route.
While several teams like the Los Angeles Lakers won’t be a part of it, there have been rumors of a shortened season within a bubble for the 2020-21 season. The South Bay Lakers were led for a majority of last season by Talen Horton-Tucker, Devontae Cacok, and Kostas Antetokounmpo.
All three players will likely spend every game this season with the actual Lakers, which could have factored in to the decision to not be a part of the G League bubble at Walt Disney World.
For the first time, it appears that concrete details are being released about the G League’s plans. It looks very similar to that of the NBA when they occupied Walt Disney World from July to October, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The NBA G League is focused on Orlando’s Disney campus as its bubble playing site for the 2021 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, with tipoff tentatively scheduled for Feb. 8, sources tell The Athletic’s Shams Charania. G League teams have been given tentative dates to prepare for, subject to change:
1. Jan. 19, arrival in their home markets for physicals and onboarding
2. Jan. 26, teams arrive at the single site in Orlando
3. Tip-off set for Feb. 8, with the tentative playoff schedule will be from March 5-9.
The G League is expected to play a 12-to-15 game schedule, sources said.
Overall, this looks to be about a two-to-three-month process, which is why 11 teams — including the Lakers — have backed out entirely:
The following 11 franchises will not send a G League affiliate: Atlanta (College Park Skyhawks), Boston (Maine Red Claws), Chicago (Windy City Bulls), Dallas (Texas Legends), Detroit (Grand Rapids Drive), Los Angeles Lakers (South Bay Lakers), Miami (Sioux Falls Skyforce), Milwaukee (Wisconsin Herd), Phoenix (Northern Arizona Suns), Sacramento (Stockton Kings) and Washington (Capital City Go-Go; will utilize Erie).
If the Lakers were to send their G League team, they would have to choose between losing or keeping Cacok and Antetokounmpo for multiple months, a decision that would not have been easy. While extra development for these players would be great, keeping them around increases flexibility in case they need to play for whatever reason.
With the pandemic still very much happening, L.A. wants to be prepared for all scenarios, meaning keeping as many players as possible available at a moment’s notice.
Cacok named to 2019-20 All-NBA G League First Team, All Rookie Team
Antetokounmpo, who is the Lakers second two-way contract, could likely use some more development before seeing real NBA minutes. However, Cacok may have proven himself ready by simply dominating in the G League.
In his first season, he was not only named to the All Rookie Team, but he was named to the All-NBA G League First Team, meaning he was among the five best players.
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