Marc Stein: NBA teams will receive a further update Wednesday on the various specifics involved, league sources say, with any strength and conditioning activities (such as weightlifting with a spotter) prohibited if it requires players and staff members to be closer than 12 feet apart
Marc Stein: Orlando, for example, would have the right to open up Friday if the NBA maintains its current schedule ... but a team spokesman says the Magic are still gathering details on making a re-opening work as smoothly as possible for players and staff and do not yet have a set timetable
NBA teams are putting protocols in place to safely reopen practice facilities, but it’s unknown when the league’s four California teams will get the green light in the gradual process to roll back restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that California is moving into Stage 2 of the state’s four-phase plan to ease restrictions, allowing retail, manufacturing and other low-risk businesses to reopen beginning Friday. Stage 3 will involve reopening places like hair salons, gyms, theaters and churches, and allowing for sports without live audiences. Live-audience sporting events won’t be permitted until Stage 4.
NBA teams might not be able to return to their practice facilities until the third stage in the governor’s plan, but the Golden State Warriors are preparing for that possibility now. Raymond Ridder, the team’s senior vice president of communications, said the Warriors are developing plans in consultation with city leaders in San Francisco.
The Kings have said their facilities will remain closed until further notice. They are working with the NBA to “review all options for return to play in consultation with public health officials and in line with governmental directives and guidance,” but they haven’t addressed Newsom’s plan or the possibility of reopening their practice facility.
Mark Berman: From the #Rockets: The Houston Rockets hosted a blood drive at Toyota Center for Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. Donors included Rockets employees and members of the general public who registered online. Donors were treated to a meal from Rockets owner @TilmanJFertitta...” pic.twitter.com/c2NRM1ke3p
Nearly two months into the suspension of the NBA season, there remains hope, and perhaps even confidence, that there will be basketball again this year. “People are very optimistic that we’ll start the season again,” Nuggets center Mason Plumlee told The Denver Post by phone on Tuesday when asked about conversations with fellow players. “There have been a lot of proposals thrown around. … From the union meetings, I’ve learned that there are developing plans and strategies to bring the season back.”
Asked specifically about a “bubble” city or quarantine scenario, Plumlee said it was plausible. Proposals have included playing out the season in either Las Vegas or, potentially, Walt Disney World in Orlando, with no fans. “I do (think it’s possible) if they have enough rapid testing kits,” Plumlee said. “People know that we’re playing for the TV at this point. It’s unrealistic to expect any kind of attendance. I know that they’ve talked about cutting down the travel party. I’ve heard proposals of one city, two cities, three cities with 10 teams, an expedited finish to the season or a differentiated version of the playoffs.
“I feel like Michele Roberts (executive director of the NBPA) and (Commissioner) Adam Silver are having ongoing discussions and they’re going to do everything they can to get the season back, but not at the expense of anybody’s health or put anybody in a risky situation.”
The NBA is targeting Friday as a potential date to reopen team practice facilities in cities and states where local governments have loosened stay-at-home orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Miami Heat does not plan to allow players to start working out at AmericanAirlines Arena until Monday at the earliest, a league source confirmed to the Miami Herald.
NBA practice facilities will only be allowed to reopen if permitted by orders from local government. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Friday during an interview with South Florida radio personality Andy Slater that the Heat will be allowed to hold workouts at its downtown Miami arena if the NBA reopens practice facilities Friday.
The Heat is still finalizing details for its plan to reopen the arena to players with hopes of starting to allow use of the practice facility on Monday, as the NBA has strict guidelines teams must follow. Among the restrictions the league has put instituted ... No more than four players would be permitted at a facility at any one time. No head coach or assistant coaches could participate. Group activity remains prohibited, including practices or scrimmages.
The Big 3 will delay a quarantined, reality show 3-on-3 pre-season basketball tournament from this month to either August or September because of ongoing concerns about the novel coronavirus, a person familiar with the developments told USA TODAY Sports. The Big 3, which originally planned to begin its fourth season on June 20 in Memphis, is aiming to start the season in either the fall or the winter, the person added. “It’s a fluid situation,” a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s hard to provide a fixed date, but it’s happening.”
Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz previously told USA TODAY Sports that he and Ice Cube, the other Big3 co-founder and hip hop mogul, remained flexible on when to launch operations both because of their extensive planning and to account for public safety. "Ice Cube and I are in the business of entertaining people," Kwatinetz said in late March. "In times like this, they need entertainment. We have to make sure it’s safe and that the basketball is credible and really competitive. We feel like we’re able to do that."
Martins said the league now is looking at a possible return later in the summer and is considering pushing back the start of the 2020-21 season if that’s what it takes to complete the current season. He said the NBA is willing to extend the season into September if necessary. “Our league has decided that we’re going to try to get in as much of our season and playoffs as the data will allow us to,” Martins told the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force’s Guidelines for Business Reopening Working Group Tuesday morning. “We’ll play as late as Labor Day if we have to and even delay, as was reported this past week, we’ve been having initial discussions about even delaying the start of next season based on trying to get as much as this season in as possible.”
“People are very optimistic that we’ll start the season again,” Nuggets center Mason Plumlee told The Denver Post by phone on Tuesday when asked about conversations with fellow players. “There have been a lot of proposals thrown around. … From the union meetings, I’ve learned that there are developing plans and strategies to bring the season back.” Asked specifically about a “bubble” city or quarantine scenario, Plumlee said it was plausible. Proposals have included playing out the season in either Las Vegas or, potentially, Walt Disney World in Orlando, with no fans.
“I do (think it’s possible) if they have enough rapid testing kits,” Plumlee said. “People know that we’re playing for the TV at this point. It’s unrealistic to expect any kind of attendance. I know that they’ve talked about cutting down the travel party. I’ve heard proposals of one city, two cities, three cities with 10 teams, an expedited finish to the season or a differentiated version of the playoffs. “I feel like Michele Roberts (executive director of the NBPA) and (Commissioner) Adam Silver are having ongoing discussions and they’re going to do everything they can to get the season back, but not at the expense of anybody’s health or put anybody in a risky situation.”
Sirius XM NBA: Nets Governor Joe Tsai suggests some teams out of playoff contention are not interested in restarting the regular season. If your team has already been eliminated, would you rather they...
Minutes before tip-off, the Jazz announced that Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19 and the game was canceled as Utah's players were placed in isolation in their locker room. Soon enough, the entire season was put on hold, and Oladipo's source of income was suddenly in question. "I was switching back and forth between games when the alert came on," Oladipo told Insider. "I was like 'Whoa, are you serious?' And they had to stop games and they came out with the announcement that the rest of the season was canceled." "It was a different type of 'Whoa, what do we do now?' type of feeling," he added.
Tsai said NBA commissioner Adam Silver is primarily focused on safety. “I think Adam has said, ‘We are not looking at a date.’ Setting a target date doesn’t make any sense,” Tsai said. “Let’s look at the data. I think one of the most important things is, to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci’s point, you have to have enough tests. One of the most pernicious things about COVID-19 is you can be asymptomatic and be infectious, so you can infect other people while you look perfectly healthy. That’s a big problem. Without tests to identify those that are contagious, and then we try to isolate them, it’s really very difficult to restart and keep everybody safe and healthy.”
Can the league find a way back to safely playing games in the near future? The answer is far from simple, said Dr. Rand McClain, Chief Medical Officer for Los Angeles-based LCR Health. But after qualifying with the fact that he's an "eternal optimist," he broke down the reason he sees the NBA's return as anything but a pipe dream. "The linchpin in this has always been the testing," McClain said in an interview on NOLA.com's Bird Watch podcast. "And that is available, so anyone who says it isn’t feasible logistically or otherwise – it is feasible."
"I believe it’s going to happen because medically it’s feasible to reduce the amount of risk to something I think most would be willing to assume … we may find out in a week, if not months, that rules that we’re enforcing in the NBA, in these bubbles, is much stricter than the public at large," McClain said. "So, is that being reckless or are we being even more protective than everybody else?"
One of the sports stars helping to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic is Louisiana Tech legend and NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone. The Malone family, including Karl’s son K.J. who played football at LSU, as well as dozens of helpers from the community handed out over 80,000 pounds of food to those in need in Union Parish.
While the NBA is still hoping to return to action this season, the French Pro A league has shuttered its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tony Parker, the president and majority owner of the French Pro A men’s and women’s basketball club ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, said it was an easy decision. “We were the first French team that let our players go home,” Parker told The Undefeated. “It was bigger than sports. Health is bigger than everything. … It was an easy decision to let everyone go home because it was important that they were with their families. “I knew really quickly that we were going to be confined a long time. … When I talked to [French] government people, I knew it was going to be four or five months or a year before we got back to normal.”
Sacramento Kings guard Cory Joseph and his family are funding thousands of food donations to help feed school children in need as a result of the COVID-19 crisis across his home country of Canada. Joseph is facilitating the donations through Isthmus, one of the only programs in Canada to provide students with reliable access to food that bridges the food security gap they experience over the weekends. “With the platform I have, I feel it is my responsibility to help those in need, especially the children back home that are most vulnerable to the conditions of poverty,” said Joseph. “Growing up in the Toronto area I saw those realities, so I hold a special place in my heart for this next generation. I am very humbled to support these kids with greater food security through Isthmus during this pandemic so they can live healthy lives and go on to achieve their dreams.”
The league has forbidden players from playing basketball anywhere but at their homes since March 19. That directive was reiterated to teams in a confidential April 27 memorandum obtained by The Times, which said that players were to avoid public health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, college facilities or “the like.” Yet one Western Conference player, who requested anonymity, said he was aware of some fellow players who had ignored league and government directives, arranging secret shooting sessions in unauthorized gyms.
Then the coronavirus outbreak created a sudden need for at-home hoops because of the widespread closure of health clubs, community gyms and public parks on top of the N.B.A.’s mandate that all teams close their facilities. Numerous N.B.A. stars — including Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul, Portland’s C.J. McCollum and, until recently, Boston’s Jayson Tatum — have said that they have gone weeks without shooting during what would normally be playoff time. “Whoever thought times would get like this where you can’t even have access to a basket or a gym?” Butler said. “Nobody thought it would come to this. But it has.”
Vucevic said he went about three weeks without being able to shoot until a neighbor installed an outdoor hoop and let him use it. “It was so much fun because I haven’t done it in a while,” Vucevic said. “You obviously miss it, but until you actually do it again, you don’t realize how much. It’s kind of like when I was little and I would just go in front of my house and just play — for hours. It reminds me of that.”
League rules also prohibit teams from purchasing home baskets for their players, which moved Butler to alleviate that issue for the Heat. Home kits, though, come with their own complications: Gabe Vincent and Kyle Alexander, Miami’s two players on two-way contracts, both live in a hotel and had nowhere to unbox Butler’s present. Then there’s an assembly issue. Leonard, who described himself as adept with tools, said it took six hours without the proper wrenches and with the limited equipment at his disposal. “Ever try putting together an Ikea dresser?” Leonard said. “This hoop was like putting together three of them.”
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari is far from optimistic that the season in the NBA will reboot amid the coronavirus crisis. “I have a negative feeling [on the season resumption],” Gallinari said while being interviewed by Italian Rai Sport. “Just thinking about the logistics that would be needed to create such a “bubble” in a place like Disneyworld.”
The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando was reported by Shams Charania to be among the options considered by the NBA to hold the rest of the regular season plus the playoffs. The city of Las Vegas has also been included in some scenarios. “The only solution is to find ourselves in such a city and play without fans,” Gallinari mentioned.” At the same time, I’d like to do it with safety, with health. So, thinking about the logistics, the rules according to which this could happen… it’s really difficult to find a solution.”
Shams Charania: Beginning Monday, NBA teams are advising fans of their ticket refund and credit policies due to the suspended regular season, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
In an interview for Le Parissien, Fournier repeated his belief that finds it difficult to see how the season will restart due to the many and different complexities involved in the matter. “I have periods where I believe in it and others where I believe less,” Fournier said. “At the moment, I’m in a mode where I don’t believe too much. It seems complicated to set it up. How many games could we play? Are we going straight into the playoffs? We mustn’t forget that some states are still in lockdown and the teams located there won’t be able to begin practices again as we could in a week. There would be a real lack of equity. I think it’d be better to put a stop to the season.
Stacey King: :I lost my older brother Lamoyne King yesterday morning to this deadly coronavirus so please take the necessary precautions to protect you & your loved ones. Stay inside, continue to practice social distancing & wear a mask. This disease is REAL people. #staysafe
NBA star and Bedford-native Myles Turner has made a $50,000 donation to Texas Health Resources. The donation comes after the Indiana Pacer’s father was successfully treated for COVID-19 at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford.
Perhaps a key factor in such decisions, beyond titles or responsibilities, is the health and age of those staffers, NBA general managers told ESPN. One NBA general manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity, pointed to the age of the team's head coach and others on the staff and said he would feel uneasy about those coaches being present for games, given the factors that place some people at a higher risk for serious issues because of the virus.
“I’ve been dying to answer this question” Carter said before answering Napear’s query about competing in empty gyms. Carter opined that basketball players are frequently required to adapt to circumstance, such as defensive schemes and rule changes, and can approach fan-less games similarly. He said, “When you toss that ball up and competition starts, and you’re in battle, how often do you worry about the fans? Yes, you hear them cheering, and booing you, I get that. But you’re in competition, you’re in battle. You should be focused on the guy in front of you, or the task at hand … With that being said, yes I could.”
Access to essential resources, none more essential than food, has become a magnified issue for underserved communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Harrison Barnes and his wife, Brittany, have donated $40,000 to help fund weekly groceries for vulnerable families and seniors in the Sacramento community.
As the NBA seeks solutions to return to action during the coronavirus pandemic, teams are weighing scenarios for potential games with only essential personnel present. Perhaps a key factor in such decisions, beyond titles or responsibilities, is the health and age of those staffers themselves, NBA general managers told ESPN.
One NBA general manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity, pointed to the age of the team's head coach and others on the coaching staff and said that, given the known factors that place some at a higher risk for serious issues because of the virus, they would feel uneasy about said coaches being present for games. "I don't want to put them in harm's way," the general manager said.
Another general manager echoed the same point regarding team staffers who might be at a high risk because of underlying health conditions or their age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that adults over 65 are at a higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
"Based on all the information that we have today, probably people over 60 with preexisting conditions can't go, for sure, no matter what their titles are," the second general manager said. "Whether it's a father of the star player or whether it's the general manager of the team, they can't go there." The first general manager said these issues apply to staff beyond coaches. "I worry about those guys," the general manager said. "That's an exposure that I don't think we can afford."
The Ringer: Everyone @Kevin O'Connor has talked to, from players to agents to executives to coaches, want to finish the season. He and @Bill Simmons discuss the possibility of the NBA’s return. #BSPodcast pic.twitter.com/4dDGRHWtio
Sports leagues are desperate for a safe way to start playing games again. Las Vegas has tens of thousands of empty hotel rooms and a tourism-based economy that has been wracked by the coronavirus pandemic. Could they help solve each other’s problems? MGM Resorts International, the company that has ownership stakes in more than a dozen hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, has pitched several sports leagues, including the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., N.H.L. and M.L.S., on an audacious proposal to house their athletes and necessary support staff to hold their seasons on a quarantined block on the Las Vegas Strip, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
According to a proposal deck sent to the N.B.A. and the W.N.B.A., which The New York Times reviewed, MGM envisions a fully quarantined campus, essentially one full block of the Las Vegas Strip, where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want. The athletes would be joined by their families, league and broadcast media employees, as well as the staff and vendors needed to serve them, with access to lounges, spas, restaurants and all the other perks the resorts offer (yes, even gambling). Sports leagues have explored any number of options for restarting their seasons, and various news media reports have floated cities like Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and Atlantic City, N.J., and even the states of Hawaii and Arizona as possible locations for games in a semi- or fully-quarantined environment. But most league executives have been publicly noncommittal about their plans.
But for the sports world, Gobert’s positive test was a dose of reality for many inside the game. Wizards point guard John Wall sat down with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on Showtime’s All the Smoke podcast Thursday and talked about what it was like when he first heard the league was shutting down. “When you get that [news] and start realizing how serious the virus was, you kinda thought, ‘Everybody has to get tested,’” Wall said. “Even me, I wasn’t playing I was on the bench but you interact with players, dapping them up throughout the game same with after the game…me having a young son, I’m like, ‘Well, you definitely have to get tested and make sure you don’t have it and make sure you’re not passing it along.’”
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard and New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart are taking their rivalry from the court to the battlefield, facing off in Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Warzone” for the final match of a gaming tournament raising money for pandemic relief.
Steve Pagliuca, who is generally part of as many causes and projects as he is involved with basketball players, signed on for a group initiative five weeks ago that has been a little breathtaking. The Celtics co-owner, through his larger job as the co-chairman of Bain Capital, had joined with a group of 12 renowned scientists and several giants in the business community to not only streamline a plan for combating COVID-19 and re-opening the economy, but to get it into the right hands at the White House.
The group, called Scientists to Stop COVID, first came to light in a Wall Street Journal story on April 27, and includes a broad range of biologists, immunologists and a Nobel laureate. They have compared themselves to The Manhattan Project – the scientists who developed and produced the atomic bomb in 1945.
This wealth of information in hand, Pagliuca then urged NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to consult with the group while determining a way to bring back the league. Silver’s cautious approach considered – with the exception of some impending practice facility openings – Pagliuca has no interest in discussing anything in terms of an NBA timetable. “I can’t comment on that. Adam Silver is studying this, and they have an incredible staff, and they’ll base it on the data and safety of fans,” he said.
Continuing to do what he can to help out those in need in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon has accepted the All In challenge to provide food for the less fortunate. Gordon, who has already made financial donations to help out school-aged children in Orlando and his hometown of San Jose, Calif., announced on Thursday that he has joined other sports, music and acting celebrities who are attempting to raise funds for food by offering exclusive packages that fans can bid on.
Gordon, a two-time Dunk Contest runner-up and a six-year NBA pro, is offering an all-expenses paid trip to Orlando for two fans with domestic flights and hotel charges covered. While in Orlando, fans will receive courtside tickets to a Magic game and tickets to Disney World. Gordon, 24, is also offering one of his game-worn Magic jerseys and an autographed basketball from the 2020 NBA Slam Dunk contest, one in which he lost in controversial fashion to Miami forward Derrick Jones Jr. Winners must be at least 18 years of age.
Brad Turner: NBA just announced it has postponed 2020 NBA draft lottery and NBA combined due to coronavirus. Both were scheduled to be held in Chicago later this month.
Marc Berman: The NBA announces no combine, which we knew, and postponement of Draft Lottery. Both in Chicago. Draft still on June 25th for now. NBA "continues to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic and consult with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government"
Adrian Wojnarowski: Among the discussion topics today on the call: The merits of moving back the start of the 2020-2021 until December, sources said. Part of that ongoing converation surrounds the opportunity a delay could give NBA teams to get more fans in arenas for more games next season.
Shams Charania: The NBA has indefinitely postponed its NBA Draft Lottery and Draft Combine in May in Chicago due to coronavirus pandemic, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Mark Berman: #Rockets CEO @tadbbrown: “We’re aligned to try work w/ the league..to work w/ other teams to figure out a solution to make sure we get this season up&running again..We feel confident as long as we’re able to create the safest environment possible..We’re all hopeful to get moving” pic.twitter.com/rPyTIdFq8P
When it comes to restarting play, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said he'll follow the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and independent health advisers. And the one thing these health experts agree on is that testing is the key to everything. There needs to be a fast, simple and reliable test. There also must be enough available public testing to avoid backlash toward the NBA for acquiring and using kits. The league expects it will need approximately 15,000 tests, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Teams were sent a memo Thursday night advising not to arrange coronavirus tests for asymptomatic players and staff.
Some of the work to determine essential personnel started weeks ago, as organizations braced for the likelihood of holding games without fans. In a memo to teams on March 7, the NBA said to "minimize the number of staff traveling with the team to essential individuals only." This scenario would go even further. Consultation with head coaches and executives led to the reduction to 28 people per team: 15 active roster spots (excluding two-way players), the head coach, three assistant coaches, three trainers/physical therapists, a strength coach, an equipment manager, a team logistics coordinator, a front-office representative, a public-relations official and a security official. The typical team travel size ranges from 40 to 50 people, growing to 75 or more in the postseason.
To be clear: This would require unprecedented work in a tight and uncertain time frame to construct the NBA's path back to live games. But this is an unprecedented situation. And if the NBA wants to come back this season, this might be its best bet. For now, the NBA does not have a return-to-play plan and remains vague by design, sources said. There are too many questions that remain without answers.
“The thing I keep hearing is the whole competitive advantage idea,” said one player on a team that could resume individual workouts next week. “If we open up half the teams’ facilities when it’s safe, what’s a team like Brooklyn going to do? That’s a question because I certainly have no idea what that looks like.” According to the league’s tracking of state-by-state government orders related to the virus, the Suns, Nuggets, Magic, Hawks, Pacers, Timberwolves, Hornets, Cavaliers, Thunder, 76ers, Grizzlies, Rockets, Mavericks, Spurs, and Jazz all live in states where stay-at-home orders will expire on or before May 8.
That leaves the four California teams (Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Warriors), the Wizards, Bulls, Pelicans, Celtics, Pistons, Knicks and Nets of New York, Raptors, Blazers, Bucks, and Heat as the teams located in cities or states where lockdowns will still be in effect. On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said most of the state could start to re-open on May 4, excluding Miami-Dade County, where the virus is still spreading.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and the team’s legal counsel lobbied Los Angeles health officials for help in getting the practice facility open in El Segundo, Calif., a source confirmed to The Athletic (first reported by ESPN). And the Lakers are hardly alone when it comes to lobbying efforts. Sources say all four of the league’s California teams (Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Kings) are hoping to convince Governor Gavin Newsom to include them in “Stage 2” of his reopening plan, perhaps with the help of the mayors in their respective cities. As Newsom detailed via Twitter on Tuesday, that stage would include “gradually reopening some lower-risk workplaces with adaptations.”
As of now, no player is allowed into his team’s facility or some other gym to work out. Development staffers are not supposed to be working with the players. If a player has a private gym at home, great. Many have said they do not. Others, according to multiple sources, are practicing secretly on their own at gyms that are supposed to be closed. “It’s just safer to have them in our gym, instead of random gyms all over the place,” said one assistant coach from a contending team.
Amid the pandemic, sources say, fan-less games could rely on robotic cameras with closer, innovative angles of the action. Television play-by-play and game analysts could call the games from remote locations. Discussions have included teams keeping essential personnel in the range of 30 to 35 -- including players -- on site.
Silver has publicly and privately insisted he couldn't abide his league gobbling up tests to resume a basketball season if the general public and medical professionals are without mass access to tests. Once the NBA shared its guidelines with teams on protocols for bringing players into the facility for workouts, it prohibited the use of tests on players unless they were showing Covid-19 symptoms, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: Story filed to @espn: The NBA sent a memo Thursday night advising teams not to arrange COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic players and staff, league sources told ESPN.
Sam Presti, Thunder Executive Vice President & General Manager, spoke with media members via video conference call on a range of subjects including the NBA’s suspended season, the team’s performance in 2019-20, and business for the organization to complete if and when this season (or next) resumes. He answered several questions but (unsurprisingly) could not provide much in the way of concrete plans or expectations from his vantage.
On the Thunder’s plans for resuming activities as permitted by state and local governments: “The league has said May 8th is the target date. But as we’ve seen, things are changing day by day. I don’t think we’re committed to that date. The league has given teams flexibility for what’s best for them. We’re gonna be thorough in how we look at it... The players have been great. They have zoom calls. I’ve been inspired by how our organization has inspired each other and leaned on each other… We don’t know when we’re coming back or if we’re coming back.“
On the Thunder working together with the rest of the NBA toward an eventual, if “imperfect”, return to play: “As one of 30 (NBA teams), even though we’re competing against other organizations, this is not the time for that. When we return, even if it’s next season, we are experiencing it together. There are bigger things at play here. My hope here is that we figure out how to get through this virus and keep people safe. Then we can think about basketball... Basketball is so small relative to everything we’re facing right now... (You can’t) pretend you have the facts that you don’t have… We’re so far into hypotheticals and theories at this point, I’m not sure the work is productive.”
Adam Himmelsbach: Bucks owner Marc Lasry was just on @CNBC and he sounded confident that the NBA playoffs will be held in July or August.
Mike Finger: RC Buford says he just got off call with NBA team presidents. "Every intention is to return to play."
Tim Reynolds: RC Buford says the Spurs "want to do what's right for the league and for the fans" when it comes to resuming the season. Further, Buford says team presidents met today and that the consensus remains that teams want to play.
Paul Garcia: RC Buford says the front office continues to prepare for the draft and offseason, but with no target dates. He says any plans or dates regarding the future for the team will be set by the league.
RJ Marquez: #Spurs RC Buford on conference call asked about employee's pay or possible furloughs during #COVID19 pandemic: "We took care of staff through the end of the season. We have not made any staffing changes at this time." #KSATsports #KSATnews #NBA
Tom Orsborn: In a video conference with local reporters, #Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said the club hasn't had to make any staff changes, furloughs, layoffs, pay reductions, etc., during the layoff. But he added, "We will review the reality of the situation as we go on."
LeBron James: Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything. 👑
NBA team executives and players’ agents spoke to CNBC in recent weeks about the challenges in resuming play. They said team owners are concerned with liability issues and are conflicted about whether or not to give up on the current season. The individuals spoke on condition of anonymity as they aren’t authorized to discuss league matters publicly. Billions of dollars are on the line if the NBA can’t rescue its season. NBA teams split the roughly $2 billion per year in national TV money the NBA receives from ESPN and Turner Sports. But clubs also gain revenue from local media deals with Regional Sports Networks.
“What [owners] are saying is, ’If we return, where is the revenue that is going to justify the additional cost of returning?” one team executive said. “They are looking at the cost side versus the revenue side. What revenue comes in now?” Also, NBA clubs have many limited partners who are taking losses. “These owners aren’t just sitting there with an ATM that’s printing more than ever before,” said Andy Dolich, the Memphis Grizzlies former president of business operations. “Some of them are looking at vast losses outside of just their basketball team.”
Despite all the signals that it will be nearly impossible to rescue the rest of the NBA season, a league spokesperson told CNBC the league is still working on plans to resume. “It is the responsibility of the league office to explore all options for a return to play this season,” the spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “We owe that to our fans, teams, players, partners and all who love the game. While our top priority remains everyone’s health and well-being, we continue to evaluate all options to finish this season. At the same time, we are intensely focused on addressing the potential impact of Covid-19 on the 2020-21 season.”
With so much uncertainty still surrounding coronavirus, agents are also privately calling on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to cancel the remainder of the season. “I’m surprised because [Silver] always errs on the side of caution and doing what’s right,” said one agent, who added he felt Silver would have decided to cancel by now.
Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem delivered food Wednesday to two area hospitals and a fire station that hold a personal connection to him, including one that helped save his life. Haslem said he wanted to give back to the first responders in the coronavirus pandemic at the hospital in which the Miami native was born, the hospital that helped save his life when he had blood clots in 2010, and the fire station next to the community college where his father played semi pro basketball.
November 27, 2021 | 3:43 am EST Update
There is also rising buzz in coaching circles about the pressure mounting on Frank Vogel given the Lakers’ worrisome 10-10 start … given L.A.’s lack of flexibility to make roster changes.
Iman Shumpert might’ve been focusing on mirror balls more than basketballs recently, but the NBA champ says he’s NOT done hooping … telling TMZ Sports he’s got a lot left in his tank. We caught up with the 31-year-old fresh off winning the 30th season of “Dancing With the Stars” this week … and we asked with all the moves he displayed on the dancefloor, is he going to take his talents back to the basketball court?? “Tryna see what we can get done,” Shumpert said, “I love basketball. I never stopped playing.”
Haralabos Voulgaris: I tried to get (Alex Caruso) the year he was a free agent three years ago. Could not convince people that he was even an NBA basketball player and one of our guys in our front office is like, ‘I think if he didn’t look like the like Jim Carrey from the Cable Guy when when he plays a pickup basketball game, I think he would be taken a lot more seriously.’
Harrison Faigen: LeBron, on if the team is really patient, or if they’re just putting on a brave face when they preach patience: “We’re all disgusted at our losses. But at the same time, you’ve got to stay even-keeled throughout the process… I feel like I played a horrible game individually.”
Harrison Faigen: LeBron James says he saw Isaiah Stewart’s comments today saying he doesn’t think LeBron hit him on accident. LeBron maintains that the hit to his face was accidental, he was just trying to push Stewart off of him.