The NBA has it all figured out.
Four players and 10 coaches per team are permitted to return to team practice facilities by Tuesday, with eight players allowed July 1.
Teams will start arriving in Orlando on July 7 for training camp at Disney Wide World of Sports, and will live in a “bubble” for what could be a little more than three months. Regular-season games are slated to tip off on the complex’s three courts July 30.
The next two weeks could determine if that timeline remains a viable option.
Players are scheduled to be tested for COVID-19 at the team facilities. While the league is prepared for some positive tests, what happens if a significant number of players test positive?
Players and teams don’t have to announce who tests positive, but the league will know.
Major League Baseball had to shut down all spring training sites Friday. There were reportedly 40 positive tests involving MLB personnel, including five Phillies players and three team staffers.
The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning also closed their training facility in the wake of multiple positive tests by players and staffers, and Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews reportedly tested positive, too.
Along with the number of positive NBA tests being important, so is who tests positive. The more big-name players are on the list, the worse it becomes for the league.
While some could argue positive tests now would be a good thing by having time to quarantine before the real games occur, too many positive tests could mean an end to the restart.
If there’s a threshold that would result in a second suspension of the season, it hasn’t become public knowledge.
Players have been voicing concern with being in Florida, where the number of positive tests remains high. Florida set state records for most reported cases three straight days (Thursday through Saturday), with 4,049 on Saturday before dropping to 3,494 on Sunday.
Orange County, where most of the players will stay, instituted a policy Saturday requiring residents to wear protective masks in public.
The Sixers are one of eight teams assigned to stay at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. They will have access to a players-only lounge and 24-hour concierge service, and can also attend games involving the other teams staying at the Grand Floridian (the Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, Mavericks, Nets, Grizzlies and Magic).
While it’s nice the Sixers can interact with players from those teams and remain in the “bubble,” there will also be Disney employees coming and going. The players are aware of this and some aren’t particularly fond of the idea. I don’t blame them.
Put it all together and don’t be surprised if more than a few players choose not to participate in Orlando due to health concerns.
The only person on the 22 participating teams to say he’ll sit out thus far, according to an ESPN report, is the Wizards’ Davis Bertans, though he’s apparently doing so largely because he is an impending free agent and doesn’t want to risk an injury after overcoming a pair of torn ACLs.
Maybe there won’t be too many positive tests and everything will proceed as the NBA has planned through the mid-October conclusion of the NBA Finals. That would be ideal.
But there’s also a real possibility for dozens of positive tests, which could create a difficult decision for a league that has crowned a champion every year since its inception in 1949-50 and doesn’t want that to change now.
Tom Moore: email@example.com; @TomMoorePhilly