“Places are opening up. Let’s not forget COVID isn’t magically less contagious now,” Malcolm Miller of the Toronto Raptors tweeted Saturday. “The virus itself didn’t get better… stay safe.” Teams have been allowed to welcome players back to their training facilities for voluntary sessions since May 8, and more than half of the league’s franchises have taken advantage of that opportunity.
It remains unknown where the NBA is in the process of securing tests or developing large-scale testing protocols. Also unclear: how many regular-season games would be played before the postseason begins — or if all 30 teams would be playing. The league has asked team general managers for additional input on those matters.
Any return to play must also come with a green light from the N.B.A. players’ union. A spokeswoman for the union did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is also unclear what the logistics of such a return would be, such as how many, if any, fans would be allowed into an arena for games, how freely players would be allowed to move around or what kind of testing would take place. The games would almost assuredly be run without fans in the stands, as has been the case for some other recent sporting events in golf and soccer. Any return to play would also have added risks for players or team personnel who have underlying health conditions, or for people over 65, a group that includes three head coaches.
At least one player, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, has raised one of the issues the league and the union will have to navigate if the league, as some have suggested, returns and goes straight to the playoffs. “If we go 16 teams directly to playoffs do those teams get paid more for the risk and carrying this years revenue after Corona and China?” Dinwiddie, who is not the designated players’ union representative for the Nets, posted on Twitter, referring to the loss of revenue from the league’s rift with the Chinese government.
But while front offices will likely lobby for the proposals that make the most sense for their respective teams, the ultimate decision on what is best for the league as a whole falls to commissioner Silver, though that is also dictated by advice from public health professionals. Granted, there are still many details to iron out -- issues such as availability of tests for COVID-19, how hermetic a "bubble" would have to be to reduce the likelihood of new infections and how many players/coaches/staff from each team would be allowed to attend are still to be determined -- and a spike in cases as states start to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, or any significant change in how the COVID-19 pandemic is playing out in the United States, could derail even the best laid plans. But after over two months of uncertainty regarding the resumption of the NBA season, we're finally starting to get some answers.
Tim Reynolds: BREAKING: The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are engaged in exploratory conversations with Disney for a single-site return of NBA games in late July at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex -- for games, practices and housing.
The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Company about restarting the remainder of its season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday. "The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing, Bass said. "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."
Scott Gustin: BREAKING: Disney just sent me their statement confirming the report: "The Walt Disney Company has a great, long-standing relationship with the NBA. We are engaged in conversations with them about completing the 2019-2020 season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports…"
Scott Gustin: Everything confirmed today is the same as what has been previously reported via “sources” — today is the NBA and Disney confirming those reports. FWIW: It would be EXTREMELY surprising if the NBA and Disney confirmed these discussions unless they were VERY close to an agreement
The NBA has sent a survey to its 30 general managers regarding competition formats for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, sources told The Athletic. This continues the NBA’s process of gathering information and input from its organizations prior to a restart amid the coronavirus pandemic. GMs received the survey late Friday night, which included polling on whether the NBA should do a play-in tournament, the preferred number of teams to enter the playing site and the preferred number of scrimmages or regular-season games prior to the playoffs.
According to multiple sources, the NBA, led by Silver, also held a conference call with GMs on Thursday in which several notable topics were discussed: A two-step approach to the start of games: Two-week training camp in a team’s market, then a two-week quarantined training camp in the playing location.
Players are resistant to the full nasal swab coronavirus test: As a result, the league is working on acquiring more comfortable testing via saliva or via the tip of the nose. Once in the bubble site, teams could share support services: This includes doctors and security personnel, to lessen the number of people involved.
GMs will be able to vote on a series of scenarios, The Athletic has learned. Season formats for consideration: — Advance directly to playoffs: (16 teams, four rounds, best-of-seven series) with postseason teams based on standings as of March 12 — A “Playoffs Plus” option: Expanding the number of teams with the opportunity to play, either through holding a play-in tournament to determine the final seed(s) in playoffs, to be played by “bubble teams” or replacing the first round of the playoffs with a group stage.
“You’ve just got to be very cautious and very careful about everything, and I don’t think you can take anything for granted,” said Alvin Gentry, 65, the coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. He is one of three N.B.A. head coaches who are 65 or older. When the N.B.A. abruptly suspended play on March 11, Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers feared he was done for the season, no matter what. Nance, 27, learned in high school that he had Crohn’s disease, which is often treated with medication that can put users at higher risk of infections.
Some teams have considered setting up temporary training camps at interim stops prior to arriving at Disney World in Orlando, where Eastern Conference teams expect they'll be stationed to complete the season, sources said. Twenty-one of the league's practice facilities are open for voluntary workouts, but most players on the Knicks and Nets haven't returned to the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, New York. In most instances, front office executives say, they're unable to get players to return to their markets to start preparing for the season's resumption without the commissioner announcing that the season will be resumed.
On Thursday's call, the league was vague in detailing several resumption scenarios still under consideration, including a modified 30-team regular-season schedule directly to the playoffs, pool-play rounds of a play-in tournament and play-in models with less than 30, but more than 16 teams, sources said. Several members of the league's Board of Governors believe that the league preference isn't to bring every team to resume the season, but remains undecided. First, the fewer teams, the fewer people at risk to spread or contract COVID-19. Also, with little chance to play more than five-to-seven regular season games, a month of preparation seems like an excessive investment for teams at the bottom of the standings. And the idea of rewarding the league's very worst teams in a play-in tournament has been met with scant enthusiasm.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer always has dreamed of Central Florida becoming the nation’s No. 1 sports destination, although these are certainly not the circumstances he had in mind. As the nation confronts the health and economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus, Dyer confirmed Friday that Orlando is indeed “in the mix” to host the re-start of both the NBA and MLS seasons but insisted “nothing is set in stone” just yet.
“I didn’t envision it going exactly this way as far as enhancing our reputation as the [No. 1] sports destination in the country, but we would certainly be excited about hosting both the NBA and/or MLS for their seasons or partial seasons,” Dyer said during a radio interview Friday on 96.9-FM and 740-AM. “I’ve had communications with both and they have similar criteria. They’re going to pick somewhere to reopen where they have acceptance from the state and local government; they need facilities availability; and they need the availability of rapid [COVID-19] testing. I think we fit in all three of those categories."
MGM Resorts International has offered to host the resumption of the NBA season in Las Vegas and has the requisite arena and hotel space. The company is an NBA partner, and its proposal centered around Mandalay Bay, which has 4,700 rooms and is connected to Mandalay Bay Convention Center — home the last two years to the league’s annual G League Winter Showcase.
Former Thomas & Mack Center director Daren Libonati said he believes Las Vegas would be an ideal location for the resumption of the NBA season, but noted that it has its challenges. “Your biggest challenge, the biggest spoke in the wheel, would be transportation, getting your people from venue to venue and creating a schedule that is organized,” said Libonati, who has 33 years of experience working in local sports an entertainment. “But … that’s what makes us probably the sexiest city in the world,” he added. “We have the ability to flip a switch and change our venues.”
Concerns of testing capacity and perception in the initial weeks have shifted to issues of protocol -- the league's position has been to closely watch other sports return to action, learn from what has gone well and adapt that information to suit its needs. Dr . Vivek Murthy has spoken to league leaders and team owners, and, informally, to others across sports who confidentially contact him. The questions are all of the same ilk: When can fans return to games? How should they respond if someone tests positive? How often should they test athletes or staffers? How should they safely keep distance between staffers and players?
"Look, there is a nonzero risk to players that being infected with COVID-19 could lead to major complications," Murthy says. "It depends obviously on their health and preexisting conditions. The goal here is not to be alarmist and say that this is definitely going to have severe adverse effects on any NBA player who gets infected. That's not the case. You know, most NBA players are young and healthy and the statistics say most of them would, would ultimately be OK."
The NBA and the players' association have formed a joint committee to study return-to-play plans. In addition to the league office, it includes health experts, Chris Paul, Dwight Powell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum and Russell Westbrook, though sources say NBA commissioner Adam Silver and some players have had similar discussions informally for weeks.
Would you be okay playing with or against a guy that you knew tested positive for COVID19?" "Curry: Oh that'd be tough. I mean, that's one of the things that you're having to address because that is a real scenario. If you try to play and there is no vaccine, there's no way to really guarantee nobody's going to get it. I think if you are at a place where everybody says yeah we're ready to play and then they know what they're committing to. And if not, it doesn't make sense, then you won't see a ball bounce."
According to people with knowledge of the NBA’s thinking, there is plenty of confidence that the league will return to play to finish the 2019-20 season. The mechanics of that return — the when, the where and the how — are still fluid.
Nick Kosmider: Millsap: "I know what's at stake for basketball and the NBA. I'm all for a return. It's not about me. It's about all the hard work that's gone into the CBA and where we're at today. ... I'm up for it and know the NBA wouldn't put us in an unsafe situation."
Chris Paul appeared on The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah on Wednesday. The Thunder guard talked about a wide variety of topics, but of course, the return of the NBA was top of mind. "There's conversations happening every day -- every day -- just trying to figure out what's the safest way," said Paul, who is also the president of the players' association. "We want to play. I think everybody wants us to play."
Shams Charania: NBA shoring up its testing protocols, informing teams that it is engaged in conversations with BioReference Laboratories, LabCorp, Quest Diagnostics and Vault Health/RUCDR Infinite Biologics at Rutgers, sources said. Teams asked to create account with each company.
Asked about the report during the interview with CNBC, Harden said there have been “multiple conversations” between the league and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). However, he added, “there are so many things that have to be figured out. But the sooner, the better.” Harden said he would play games again without fans, but would feel comfortable returning when the pandemic has “calmed down all the way to a minimum.”
“I want it to be safe,” said Harden when asked about returning. “I want it to be entertaining for the fans and players to get out there and compete. As soon as we can get this ramped up, I’m ready to go. I feel like the majority of the players feel the same way.”
Gallinari likes the idea of restarting the season but insists precautions must be taken to prevent players from being infected by the deadly virus, which can also impose lasting debilitating effects. "At the thought of going back and playing, I'm very excited," Gallinari said. "At the same time, as a player, I want it to be as safe as possible. Everybody knows this virus is no joke. If we do it, we need to do it in a safe environment."
On the latest episode of the Purple Talk podcast, Kings assistant coach Bobby Jackson, who is currently working out with players at the team’s practice facility, gave his opinion on the matter. “Honestly, I think the guys want to play basketball,” Jackson said. “I think they want to play in a safe environment though and I know the NBA will do a great job of putting us in a great environment that will allow us to be safe.”
“I think every guy really wants to get back, they want to get back into the swing of things, because you miss it,” Jackson added. “It’s a part of your life. It’s a part of your body. You’ve got a close knit family and brotherhood that you’ve been a part of throughout the season and nothing is better than getting back out on the floor with the guys you love going to war with.”
Several people familiar with the details of the conversations have told The Associated Press this week that players around the league are being urged to start getting mentally and physically ready for training camps that could be just a few weeks away. It might not be a unanimously approved notion, but 2-1/2 months into this pandemic-caused shutdown, the NBA finally seems on the cusp of being able to move forward.
Ingles, a key member of the Utah Jazz who sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, has said he is prepared to "walk away, fly to Australia and never play another game in my life and be very content with it" to protect his family from the virus. His wife, Australian netball great Renae Ingles, is expecting their third child and four-year-old son Jacob has autism and a weakened immune system.
Ingles will take a wait-and-see approach to playing games if the season does start. "It's not worth it," Ingles, discussing practice at the Jazz facility, told Utah radio station 1280 The Zone last week. "I have a gym, I have everything I can do. As for basketball, it's a bit more difficult, but I think that as we go ahead and find out more information about it, it will be easier to make a decision. But I am in no way willing to risk my children, and Renae, and everything else, to go play basketball."
Matthew Dellavedova's Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Larry Nance Jr raised doubts about whether the tough Australian guard will play. Dellavedova and wife Anna welcomed son Anders into the world last November. "If I were him, no I'm not subjecting myself to that, because then I can bring it home to my family," Nance Jr told reporters.
Throughout the hiatus, Milwaukee has continued to operate as if the organization will continue to play. The team is nursing the NBA's best record (53-12), and the Greek Freak is itching to return to the court. "I have complete confidence that if there's a way for us to return to basketball, return to play, in a healthy and safe manner, for our players and for the public and people that would be involved, that our league will figure out how to do it," Jon Horst said. "Commissioner Silver is incredible."
Jay King: Grant Williams said “it’s gonna be a fun time” if and when the season comes back. He thinks the NBA has done a good job of communicating during this process. “We’re just gonna go with what they give us.”
When a masked Rajon Rondo dropped off groceries to those in need back home in Louisville, Kentucky, the socially distanced recipients always said thank you. And those who recognized him often asked the same thing. “The first question was always, ‘When is the NBA season going to come back?’ ” Rondo told The Undefeated. “I got a lot of those. I told them, ‘I will know the same time you find out.’ ”
There has been some optimism over the possible return of the NBA after many teams recently reopened their practice facilities. The Los Angeles Lakers reopened theirs May 16, and while Rondo said he has yet to return, he hopes the league will return to action in a safe and healthy fashion soon. “I want to play. As a competitor, you want to play,” Rondo said. But he also wants to protect his family and the people around him. “Safety first, understanding that life. We can’t take it for granted, even though we are athletes who are some of the best people in shape as far as body and heart condition. But all it takes is one case where a body can’t fight off the virus.”
Stadium: LeBron James has held safe, private on-court workouts with some Lakers teammates at a secure location, our NBA @ShamsCharania reports.
It sounds like the NBA has made some progress towards a return to play and maybe salvaging the season. What are you hearing from the players association and does it seem like it’s realistic? Fred VanVleet: “The crazy part is that everything we hear is out, you know what I mean? Like, there are no secrets really. There’s not much that you guys don’t know that we know. Obviously, we probably have a little bit more candid conversations in private. But, yeah, as of now what’s out there is about Orlando and Vegas and trying to get back and see what that would look like, try to get teams a couple weeks to get ready to play and then see what happens."
Fred VanVleet: "So, I think the optimism, there’s some credence to it, but obviously we all know the challenges that we’re facing. I just think that the combination of there being so much money involved and 450 guys who live and die basketball, I think there are a lot of reasons to get back to playing. So, I think the motive is there, the want to play is there, the resources are there. It’s just a matter of figuring out how we can put it together in the right way where it’s safe and efficient. There’s gonna be risk regardless. There’s risk if you cancel the season and there’s risk if we get back together. But I think the league is just trying to assess those risks and make sure we’ve got all of our bases covered.”
What would you need to see implemented or changed for you to feel comfortable going back? Fred VanVleet: “If I’m there by myself I think I’m okay with it. Now, if my kids were there, or things like that, I would be a little bit more on guard. That’s just me speaking personally. I’m pretty at ease with it. I’m not letting it freak me out but I also, to my knowledge, don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions or anything like that. So, there are guys in the league that are probably going to have real concerns about the virus itself and I understand that, but I think for me personally I’m not in that boat, so to speak.:
Fred VanVleet: "I think as long as they’re doing their due diligence and it’s not just a money play, where it’s like, ‘Okay, let’s get back to play because we have all this money we need to make up.’ I know that’s probably one of the factors but as long as there are real guidelines in terms of what we’re doing from a health standpoint, which I feel there is, I think that I’ll be okay with it. And if not, I’ve accepted it. I think we’ve been on break long enough to where I’m pretty open-minded to any idea that gets us back playing, you know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they cancelled the season because I understand all of the things that go into it, but I definitely wanna get back out there.”
The NBA has on its front burner of COVID-19 salvation solutions a completion of a shortened 70-game season that would begin in July and lead to summer playoffs, a league source tells DallasBasketball.com. The potential solutions are “fluid,” one source said, adding that a variety of ideas are expected to be discussed in a coming conference call involving team GMs and possibly owners.
*The July re-start if a season that would total 70 games. Contenders for the NBA Playoffs world get one last chance to jostle for position ... and so would lottery teams. Additionally, there may be a contractual issue with teams' local TV contracts that is tied to 70 games.
While NBA sources insist there are still many logistical issues to be worked out before the league can resume its games, there are team executives frustrated that the process has been slowed by the lack of widespread COVID-19 testing.
Adrian Wojnarowski on Adam Silver: I think his handling of the matter has been very popular within the league and probably even outside the league.
I had heard that they were they were looking at a five-game series for the first round. And then they would eventually get to seven games but you're you're refuting that with your information. Adrian Wojnarowski: All of it was based on how many days do we have to play with here? How many days do we have? But the goal is to do it in seven-game series. But that doesn't mean they haven't discussed it, they discussed everything. And I do think that was one of the conversations, what would that look like? I know their preference is to try to keep those playoffs best of seven all the way through.
One NBA source said a final decision on site and format probably will be rendered between June 1-10.
Lakers forward Jared Dudley says it's a "misconception" that the NBA would resume its season in a bubble location that is so closely monitored that players would be restricted from exiting the premises until all the games are finished. "You will be allowed to leave," Dudley said Wednesday on a video conference call with reporters, citing conversations he has been privy to with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts. "Now just because you leave, if we're going to give you that leeway, if you come back with corona, you can't play."
"When you're dealing with 300 different players -- if you've seen the [Michael] Jordan documentary, every team's got a [Dennis] Rodman. He just doesn't have green and blue hair," Dudley said, referring to Rodman's jaunts in "The Last Dance," when he left the Bulls to go to Las Vegas and WrestleMania. "There's always someone who's outside the box, who does that, takes the risk and says, 'Hey, listen, man, I'm healthy, and I feel good.'" It would be "somewhat selfish," Dudley said, for a player to do so. That is the case not just because he could put others at risk -- although if a player were to contract the coronavirus inside or outside the bubble, Dudley believes the frequent testing would show it rather quickly -- but also because it would eliminate him from being able to compete with his team for two weeks while he self-quarantines.
Teams expect a similar timeline on the league allowing them to expand group workouts that are already underway with in-market players, sources said. The NBA is discussing a step-by-step plan for a resumption of the 2019-20 season that includes an initial two-week recall of players into team marketplaces for a period of quarantine, one to two weeks of individual workouts at team facilities and a two- to three-week formal training camp, sources told ESPN.
Barring an unforeseen turn of events, many NBA owners, executives and National Basketball Players Association elders believe commissioner Adam Silver will greenlight the return to play in June -- with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Teams also expect that around June 1 they’ll be allowed to expand workouts that are already underway with in-market players, sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me.
The NBA is in serious discussions with Disney about the property, which has gained clear momentum over cities such as Las Vegas, sources said. It remains unclear when the games would begin, but multiple sources say the prospect of players fully training in mid-June and playing by mid-July has been the most popular and possible scenario discussed. NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Board of Governors on May 12 that he aims to decide on the season in two-to-four weeks, and that he wants to wait as long as he can to make final decisions.
While the league has explored the possibility of holding games in multiple cities, it appears likely that Orlando would be a sole host. Sources confirmed that Houston has also received serious consideration as a host city, but Orlando is on track to win its bid so long as final details regarding testing and hotel use are resolved. For the NBA, Orlando/Disney World’s controllability as a playing site — with a private property having the necessary complexes, hotels and amenities — has been the most appealing of all the possibilities all along.
As I reported two weeks ago, the NBA prefers to have teams play at one or multiple neutral sites; Disney World in Orlando and MGM Grand in Las Vegas are the most likely possibilities. Other locations are also under consideration, including Houston, multiple sources say. In downtown Houston, Toyota Center, the Rockets’ home arena, neighbors the George R. Brown Convention Center; combined, they have the facilities necessary to serve as a neutral site to host games. It remains possible that teams could play games in their own arenas. On Monday, governors in three of the country’s most populous states—California, New York, and Texas—signaled they are open to having sports games without fans. MLB and the NFL plan to do just that. But playing games at a neutral site makes it easier to control variables—the more people involved, the greater the risk. With travel comes the inclusion of pilots, drivers, and hotel workers.
Players and staffers would be living with family members or roommates, all of whom can’t be tracked by the league. Hosting the rest of the season at a neutral site would create less risk, though it remains to be seen what the league and players union will agree on. No matter where games are played, thousands of swabs and tests for players, coaches, and other personnel will be needed. Sources around the league and medical professionals agree that a quarantine with each person staying by themselves for multiple days or longer would be the most effective way to reduce the chances of an outbreak.
The league has researched various ways to bring basketball back safely, sources say, including the use of a sampling procedure called “group testing,” which aims to examine a large number of people with just a few tests. The league is also contributing to a nationwide antibody study at Mayo Clinic that involves an innovative new fingerstick test kit. Based on my conversations with sources at the league office, team executives, and medical professionals, here’s what the NBA is working on now, and what the testing process might look like if games were to resume.
The NBA has been looking for ways to support research of the pandemic since March—including recommending players who have successfully recovered from coronavirus to donate blood to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which is also run by Mayo Clinic. So far, close to 400 people from about half of the league’s teams have voluntarily participated in Mayo Clinic’s antibodies study. Portland, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Boston are among those teams, and more teams may join when their facilities open, league sources say. According to Sampathkumar, over 1,000 total people have contributed to the Mayo Clinic’s study. Participants from the NBA receive both a vein puncture and a fingerstick blood draw at their respective team practice facilities using supplies that the Mayo Clinic shipped to team doctors. In addition to helping the research of antibodies, the tests help the league get a read on COVID-19’s spread amongst the NBA population.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Ringer that players were fully on board with providing samples. “Our players have embraced the opportunity to contribute to this important public health study that will help researchers better understand the prevalence of COVID-19, potentially improve care for patients, and promote long-term efforts to develop a vaccine and treatment for the virus,” Roberts said.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, working in conjunction with local government officials, infectious disease experts and public health authorities, announced the team will open its practice facility at Mayo Clinic Square for voluntary player workouts beginning tomorrow, Thursday, May 21. Strict protocols have been designed to ensure this initial level of access will take place in a safe, controlled and healthy way.
Gasol mentioned that he understands the concerns of his colleagues regarding the resumption of the season but once play begins there’s no use holding back anything. “There is no need to be afraid to play again. Yes, I respect it, because it is a virus that has proven to have a very negative impact, but once we start playing we have to do it 100%,” he said.
How much time will players need to get back in playing shape? The former Knicks and Grizzlies head coach thinks the NBA should give teams three weeks for players to get game ready. “They got to get on the court. They got to start hitting. They got to start running up and down. They got to start playing through situations,” Fizdale said. “Doing a lot of things that the real games are going to entail.”
What is also uncertain is how many games they will play before launching into the postseason. In fact, there is the question of whether teams outside of the playoff picture should return at all. Fizdale thinks it might be beneficial to limit the remainder of the season to the teams that still have a shot at the postseason. “Is it worth risking the employees that you need to show up to the games to make a game function? Is it worth the players health? The coaches’ health? The trainers’ health?”
Regardless of where games take place, there's no question they'll look different. Fizdale says playing without fans is a no-brainer. While that would take away from the in-arena fan experience, and the typical environment of games, he does think the circumstances could add a new layer of entertainment value for those watching from home. “Now you're gonna hear everything,” Fizdale said. “You're gonna hear dialogue between people. You're gonna hear a lot of vulgarities.”
“Right now, I'm gonna say I'm not necessarily prepared because I haven't run, I haven't played. I haven't touched the ball or been able to," Young said. "But one thing I'll say is I will be prepared. That's something that I know for a fact. If we do end up coming back, there's gonna be some time where we get kind of like a mini-training camp started where we can get back in shape, play, and just kind of get back into the game flow. So if I'm not prepared right now, I will be when it returns."
Vasquez believes the NBA should be the first major American sports league to return from the coronavirus-prompted shutdown. "We're missing the game of basketball. I want to see LeBron. I want to see the best players out there. Even if I'm able to watch it on TV. It's not gonna be the same. You're gonna have to figure out ways to motivate yourself and perform [without fans]. But imagine winning a championship. I heard Shaq was saying, 'Everyone pack it up and go home, we'll see you guys next year,'" he said. "Whatever it is, it's gonna be a tough decision for the NBA. But at the end of the day, I'm telling you, whatever league comes out and starts playing right now, everyone at home is gonna watch because there's nothing else to do. So we're missing basketball. Let's be the first league to get back to work.”
September 17, 2021 | 5:16 pm EDT Update
The Denver Nuggets have signed forward Petr Cornelie to a two-way contract, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.
The word in Spanish basketball circles, as reiterated to me Friday, is that Marc Gasol is most likely to play for Girona if he decides to play on, even though the LEB Oro is one level below Spain’s top tier. I’m told he has been working out with new Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio to stay sharp even after negotiating his release earlier this week from Memphis following the Grizzlies’ recent trade with the Lakers to take on the final year of Gasol’s last NBA contract.
Ballots for the NBA’s 75th anniversary team were due back to the league office today. The league previously announced that the official list of its 75 greatest players, as selected by “a blue-ribbon panel of media, current and former players, coaches, general managers and team executives,” will be revealed in October. The voters will also be revealed — not their full individual ballots but the names of those who made the selections.
Mark Berman: New #Rockets star Jalen Green throwing out the first pitch before the Astros play Arizona.
September 17, 2021 | 3:51 pm EDT Update
After securing the arrival of Mario Hezonja, Russian team UNICS Kazan will announce soon the signing of former NBA guard OJ Mayo.
UNICS Kazan is adding one more marquee name to its roster with O.J.Mayo having a one-year deal with the Russian club. While there’s no signed contract yet, that seems to be more a formality delayed by bureaucratic reasons.
Chris Grenham: Former Hawks guard Brandon Goodwin tells me he worked out with Celtics this week. There is no training camp agreement between Boston and Goodwin yet, but there is interest from both sides. Goodwin played in 47 games with Atlanta last year, averaging 4.9 points and 2.0 assists.