Near the end of the NBA's Board of Governors call on Fr…

Near the end of the NBA’s Board of Governors call on Friday, Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett delivered an impassioned soliloquy on why the league and owners needed to consider the competitive and financial plights of smaller market teams that could be left out of the season’s summer resumption in Orlando — and the potential symbolic power of all 30 teams gathering there to play as one united association. As the NBA moves toward a plan of inviting 22 teams re-start a truncated season in late July, sources told ESPN, Bennett spoke of exhausting ways to accommodate non-playoff teams still wanting to play. He wondered: was there a way to safely bring all 30 teams?

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For those teams left out of the playoffs, there has already been dialogue on the possibility of mandatory summer training camps and regional fall leagues of four-to-five teams that could bridge the lengthy gap between seasons, sources told ESPN. Those are ideas many teams consider vital, and there's an expectation that the NBA will raise possible scenarios such as these with the Players Association, sources said. "The message was something bigger, reminding people that some teams can't just re-open the doors in nine of 10 months and so easily sell tickets or a sponsorship without having played basketball for that long," one high-level Eastern Conference official on the call told ESPN.
If the NBA ends up settling on the 22-team format, at least some of the remaining eight teams will push for some form of training camp over the summer, sources said. Franchises fear being apart from their players for as long as eight or nine months. Like so much of what comes next, the concept of a formal summer camp places the NBA in uncharted territory. Intruding into what are typically offseason months for players would require some bargaining with the players association, sources said. And what about players entering free agency when the offseason begins - which could extend as far as mid-October?
Tim Reynolds: Nothing official yet, but some NBA players expect a scenario where their families won’t be able to be with them at the Disney complex until sometime in September, AP is told. Many details - including this - remain uncertain but this is the belief some players have at this point.
Jerry West: "I think in Los Angeles, they have so many Laker fans. My goodness. The enormous success that the Lakers have had over the years, they are a really good team now, two of the best players we’ve seen in a long time on one team. I think it would be incredible for the people in the west. I’m not sure how that would go over for the teams back east who want to see their respective teams get an opportunity to play."
A decision on the re-launched NBA's format could be reached next week, with one prospect being only the top-16 sides will feature as they fast-track straight to play-offs. "We're not in the play-off picture so even if the NBA does announce it's coming back we still don't know if we're going to be included, which is tough," Dellavedova said in an Instagram interview on Saturday.
Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter was “shocked” to hear that there are some NBA stars who don’t want to play at all before there is a vaccine for the coronavirus. Something that basically means that they don’t plan to return to court anytime soon since there’s nothing concrete regarding when a coronavirus cure will be available. In a video interview with NBC’s Chris Fosberg, Kanter revealed a discussion he had with some of his friends from other teams. The Turkish big man mentioned that his friends told him that certain superstars won’t play when the NBA resumes.
“This is my ninth year in the league, I have so many friends on different teams, right? I was actually talking to one of my friends and he said—I’m not going to tell who or which team—but he said, ‘”here’s so many guys on our team that they’re not going to play.’ They’re actually in the Eastern Conference, they’re in a playoff spot. And they’re like superstars. Like, if I told you who it is, you’d go crazy,” Kanter said. “They said ‘hey, we are not going to play,’ They said that until they find a vaccine, until they find a cure, they are not going to play,” Kanter later added before saying that: “I was shocked by those players that don’t want to play. If they don’t play… Those people are All-Star players.”
One thing that achieved widespread consensus was the need for teams to have more flexibility with their rosters no matter how the league chooses to resume play. When asked if the playoffs should have expanded rosters or teams should have more of an ability to replace players sidelined by injury or illness, only two teams voted for neither option. Twelve voted for expanded rosters, and 16 voted for an increased ability to replace players who are injured or sick.
One source said the idea of bringing back 20 teams — possibly a few more, but not all 30 — continues to resonate as the most likely scenario. Another plan discussed Friday, the source said, would bring any team within six games of a playoff spot back for the resumption of the season, a scenario where bassed on the current standings 13 teams from the Western Conference and nine from the Eastern Conference would return.
According to league sources and those involved in discussions, teams will travel to Orlando and stay in the various hotels around campus and will conduct practices at the site’s athletic facilities. A limited number of staff and coaches will attend and extensive safety measures will be taken for players and their families.
The league has polled its general managers, who largely have voted with self-interest as a motivator. Reportedly, 53% of the general managers voted for the return to include only the 16 teams in playoff position. However, the general managers are under the impression that their opinions are merely that — opinions. League sources believe Silver, with broadcast partners and medical advisors shaping his thinking, ultimately will be the one to make the decision about how the NBA resumes play.
The Knicks’ chances of restarting the season are “a long shot,’’ according to a source, as the league is leaning against bringing back all 30 teams.
Lillard got a boost from Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes on Friday, with the veteran NBA champion backing up the Blazers star on Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck’s podcast “Full 48” (via SB Nation’s Sactown Royalty): “I think Dame is right. If you come back and play, you want to be playing for something.” “There’s no other simulation that we can get for games. This group, where we’re at, we need to play, we need to play together, and playing for something is important.”
Boston Celtics big man Enes Kanter said that while he and his Celtics teammates are looking forward to getting back on the floor, he mentions a friend on another team that is not exactly excited to play basketball right now: “This is my ninth year in the league, I have so many friends on different teams, right?” Kanter said on his podcast, via NBC Sports Boston. “I was actually talking to one of my friends and he said — I’m not going to tell who or which team — but he said, ‘There’s so many guys on our team, they’re not going to play.’ They’re actually in the Eastern Conference, they’re in a playoff spot, and they’re like superstars. Like, if I tell you who it is, you’d go crazy.”
The NBA has been examining several plans on a return-to-play, but numerous members of the Board of Governors tell ESPN that there's growing support for a plan to bring 22 teams to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in July. This format would likely include regular-season and play-in games to compete for playoff berths in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, sources said.
Regardless of how many teams are ultimately included in the playoffs, the NBPA has consistently stressed that it wants several regular-season games played prior to the start of the playoffs, sources said. That has been a prevailing sentiment among several contending teams who prefer a tune-up before entering into the postseason, sources said.
Mark Cuban offered his predictions on ESPN’s “The Jump”. First: Aug. 1 will likely be the latest date the NBA could restart its season without significantly hampering future seasons, Cuban said. To calculate his timeline, Cuban “works backward” from the 2020-21 season, which he is in favor of starting on Christmas, rather than in late October under the league’s traditional calendar.
“We can start playing in August, for that matter, because we don’t have all the travel restrictions,” Cuban said. “Everyone [will be] in probably one location. You don’t have to fly across the country, give everybody one day off. You can play multiple games in one day. You can compress it in ways we never were able to before, so I don’t think there’s a drop-dead date. … Starting by Aug. 1 in order to make it, so that gives us plenty of time.”
“Unique circumstances, unique opportunities,” Cuban said. “I’m confident we’ll take advantage of it and do something differently. … As long as you give players something to play for, they’ll recognize that this is an opportunity because it’s not inconceivable that a team that was at the bottom of the standings can all of sudden make a run and get hot. And really, coming back like this favors younger teams because it’s going to be easier for a young player to get back and get that athleticism going and get ready than it is for an older player, so anything’s possible.”
Tim Reynolds: This is going to be Adam Silver’s most important decision since Donald Sterling. Throughout this saga, the confidence around the league that Silver would make the right calls has been very high.
Jared Dudley: Expect player recalls to their respective teams that Thursday also... have to give players a week or so to arrange travel to get back. ESP for players overseas..
Beverley joined Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter on Wednesday night and talked about why he's being especially cautious with his return to team facilities. "Oh, I'm not— I'm not in the building, I tell you that," Beverley said. "I'm gonna wait until we find out some more important details about exactly what's going on before I, you know, put my family's safety at risk by going to the facility... It's the cleanest place in L.A., but I don't know if I'm just ready yet. You know I'm eager to play, I'm ready to play, excited to play. I just want things to kinda calm down a little bit more, kinda go back to normal before we get to jump in cold tubs and hot tubs."
In true Pat fashion, Beverley also told Van Pelt that he's "locked-in" and discussed the mindset he's had throughout this process. "Basketball is not an on and off thing," he said. "It's a lifestyle. I created this lifestyle for me and I've been wanting it ever since."
The league has polled its general managers, who have largely voted with self-interest as a motivator. Reportedly, 53% of the general managers voted for the league’s return to include only the 16 teams currently in playoff position. Ultimately, though, the NBA’s general managers are under the impression that their opinions are merely that — opinions. League sources believe Silver, with the league’s broadcast partners and medical advisors shaping his thinking, will ultimately be the one to make the decision about how the NBA resumes play.
In a call with the league’s Board of Governors, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver presented multiple return-to-play scenarios and set a target date of July 31 for a return to games, according to people with knowledge of Friday’s call.
No decisions have been made on a format for that return, with the league still considering bringing back all 30 teams to finish the regular season in some form. That plan, according to people with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly, has very little support and is the most unlikely of the scenarios being discussed. “They flat-out don’t want to play,” one executive said of teams with no chance to make the playoffs.
Kevin O'Connor: Sources: If the NBA resumes play with a 22-team regular season format, teams will likely play eight games each. Then, a play-in tournament would take place for the eighth seed in each conference. Plans aren’t finalized yet but as of now it appears conferences would stay in place.
Rod Beard: The #Pistons, #Warriors and #Spurs are the only teams who have not resumed voluntary team workouts at their practice facilities. The #Pistons have said that they will not reopen their facility until Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order expires on June 12.
The Knicks finally opened their training facility in Tarrytown on Friday but that does not mean they will be part of the season’s restart. According to an NBA source, commissioner Adam Silver’s Board of Governor’s conference call with owners left the impressions that bringing back all 30 teams was unlikely.
The general impression, however, is the Knicks are a “long shot” to play another game, according to a person debriefed on the call. Indeed, the Knicks seem ambivalent about returning. If their season is over, president Leon Rose could begin a coaching search that will include keeping Mike Miller, but features Tom Thibodeau as top dog.
The Washington Wizards announced today that they will allow players to participate in individual voluntary workouts at the MedStar Wizards Performance Center. Players began workouts today while strictly following all guidelines from local DC health officials and rules and restrictions set forth by the NBA.
Mutombo, who was hired by the NBA in 2009 as a global ambassador and serves on the boards of the CDC and UNICEF, among others, is privy to the conversations being discussed about the league’s potential return. He’s a part of a weekly video conference that keeps league employees and individual teams up to speed with the myriad decisions the NBA is now facing. “As an employee of the league, as the NBA global ambassador, I would pray that one day we’ll get a chance to resume the season,” Mutombo told The Post in a wide-ranging phone interview.
Dikembe Mutombo: “Right now, nobody knows the time or the date to tell you the truth. Our wish is that, I’m talking as an employee and also as a former player, the NBA would love our games to come back. But we have to take all the precaution necessary to make sure that if we do come back, that everything has to be right. Our commissioner Adam Silver and our deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and their team, they are working day and night, and including our medical teams, are making sure that whatever we’re going to do as a league, that our players will be protected, because no matter what we want to do to bring our game to our fans at this critical time, to our fans who have been supporting us for years, we just want to make sure that we protect our product as well.”
“What the World Health Organization is asking us to do, they’re asking all of us to be part of the solution or causing no more problems,” Mutombo said. “I think we’ve already seen so many deaths already. We’ve already lost so many loved ones. I think every one of us who’s living in America today … I think all of us knows somebody who has died from COVID-19, either a friend or friend of a friend or a family member.”
Satoransky, one of the best European point guards of his generation, explained why for the Bulls players resuming the NBA season might not make much sense, unless there’s a chance to squeeze into the playoffs despite their 22-43 record. Asked on the subject, Satoransky explained: “There are a few scenarios if we would actually be able to play for something like playoffs, that kind of changes everything because it gives you some motivation. It’s tough for a player, especially a player with a family. Imagine being two months separated from your family, just playing five or six games and be done with it.”
Chris Iseman: The Knicks today re-opened their facility for voluntary player workouts. "As the safety of our players and our staff remains our priority, we will continue to follow the guidelines established by the State of New York and the NBA."
Tim Reynolds: By the NBA's math, the gap in games is barely over 50% completed. It has been 11 weeks (plus two days) since they shut it down, and the hope is that they'll play games again nine weeks from now. Seems like so much longer, doesn't it?
Rachel Nichols: .@Mark Cuban says on #TheJump he thinks whatever format the NBA picks, it will be different from the 16-team playoffs we're used to with East vs West in the Finals: "Unique circumstances, unique opportunities. So I'm confident we'll take advantage of it & do something differently."
Resume the regular season with all 30 teams followed by a play-in tournament (8 votes); • Go straight to the playoffs with either a play-in tournament or a World Cup-style group stage (5 votes); • Resume the regular season with all 30 teams and then go straight to the playoffs (1 vote).
There were also several questions about what a potential "playoff-plus" model might look like, in terms of how many teams would be involved and how it would be formatted. A play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth spots in each conference -- with the top six advancing directly to the playoffs -- received the most votes with 13. A play-in tournament for the eighth spot in each conference received nine votes, while a group stage format got eight votes. When asked how many teams should participate in one of these expanded playoff formats, there were 15 votes for 20 teams, while seven voted for 24, five for 18 and three for 22.
Meanwhile, when asked on a 1-5 scale for what extent they would support increasing the number of inactive roster spots available to teams, 13 voted for "5" (strongly support), while eight others voted for either 3 or 4. There also was a strong preference to add two-way players to playoff rosters -- something that previously wasn't the case. Only three teams said they would vote against adding two-way players to playoff rosters, while 19 said they would support it if rosters remain the same size. The eight other teams said they would support adding two-way players even if rosters expanded beyond 15.
But I do cover sports, and the NBA is a huge, global league, that millions of people care about. And I respect that this is important to you. So, I’m going to concentrate on that below. After speaking to a couple dozen folks at all levels, from owners on down, the past few days, here’s the lay of the land, with the league’s Board of Governors set to meet with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Friday, a day after Silver spoke with the league’s GMs: The GM meeting, per a source, focused on the different potential playing formats after the restart, and the impacts of each on the final regular-season standings and other issues. But no definitive dates or decisions were made.
“I’m fairly certain that Disney is going to work,” a high-ranking official with knowledge of the union’s thoughts said Thursday. “Vegas had some of the logistical things we needed but didn’t have the environment that could enhance our health protocols. Vegas scared me to death. Florida worried me a little bit because of the state opening up so early, but having a venue that can basically be closed off, I do think we can check off the venue issue off our list. I think we’ve got that down.”
There is a lot of support among teams and agents to include as many teams as possible. “I’m pushing for all,” one prominent agent said Wednesday. “I’m hearing the league wants to go to directly to the playoffs and I personally don’t think that’s fair to all the players who missed this season and want to participate. My suggestion for a format has always been 3-4 games for everyone, (a) play-in tournament for the eighth seed and then (a) regular playoff format.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with NBA general managers on Thursday to review the results of the survey delivered to teams last week regarding potential formats to resume play. “There was zero commitment to any one plan,” a general manager told me over the phone. “But it was a call to gather more information.”
Half of the league’s general managers voted to go straight to the playoffs and cancel the rest of the regular season, sources said. Just over half of the league voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16 without factoring in conference affiliation.
General managers were surveyed about a “playoffs-plus” format—either a play-in tournament between the bubble teams to determine the final seeds in the playoffs, or a World Cup–style group stage, which would replace the end of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs with a round-robin format. About 75 percent of teams voted in favor of a play-in tournament, sources said, while 25 percent of teams voted in favor of the group stage.
Even if teams vote in their own best interests, it’s still noteworthy that there is leaguewide support behind more dramatic changes that were balked at in the past—such as playoff reseeding and play-in tournaments. My personal impression from conversations with sources across the league is that Silver is surveying teams to see if there is hunger for a new format the league may be able to use beyond this summer’s restart. Perhaps
But rumblings across the league suggest the NBA will require teams to arrive at Disney World around July 16, at which point they’ll quarantine for a to-be-determined amount of time before group workouts resume and scrimmages begin. And then, games could begin on Friday, July 31. But all of that will be determined in the coming days and weeks, and anything as of now is simply tentative or speculation.
As for what the Wolves would like to see? A source said they will go along with whatever scenario is in the best interest of the league. Wolves coach Ryan Saunders has often said he wished he had a training camp to install systems instead of having to do it on the fly with a team that was largely assembled at the early February trade deadline.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on The Hoop Collective, the league may dismiss the idea of playing as many as 90 regular season games and go right to group-stage type opening round because it will give Zion Williamson and the Pelicans a better chance of making the 16-team playoffs. “I’ll tell you one thing: that scenario gets Zion Williamson in,” Windhorst said. “Look, I’ve just heard… I’m not saying the NBA is going this route, I’m just saying I’ve already heard this scenario that no matter what happens, the cutoff line will be the Pelicans. They’ll be in. It will be the first time in the history of the NBA that the league kicked the ball into the fairway for New Orleans.”
Rockets star James Harden said Wednesday he is all for the idea of the NBA returning to play in a single-site scenario — as long as the resumption of the 2019-20 season can be deemed safe for all involved. “For me it’s all about safety,” Harden said via email. “If the league and public officials are confident that a single-site setup is safe for all players, staff and fans, then I’m ready to go. I want to get back out there I just want to make sure we’re in a good position to so.”
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey thinks the NBA's hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic could be beneficial to his team's chances of make a championship run whenever the 2020 playoffs begin. In a Facebook Q&A with team reporter Cayleigh Griffin, Morey said Thursday the multi-month layoff could be helpful to veterans Houston acquired during the season. By virtue of a second training camp, they could get a new opportunity to work their way into coach Mike D'Antoni's playoff rotation.
Kellan Olson: Footage provided by the Suns of Mikal Bridges working out at the Coliseum.
Adrian Wojnarowski: On a call with the NBA GM's this afternoon, Adam Silver confirmed that Friday's meeting of the Board of Governors would not include a formal vote on a return-to-play plan, sources tell ESPN. Talks on a plan will continue into the weekend.
Collin Sexton says playing basketball in front of empty arenas will be different. It will feel, he said, a little like practice; which is just fine, since he's plenty competitive in practice anyway. "Whenever the season is, maybe next week, a couple weeks from now," said Sexton, "when the season is here, I'll be ready."
The Aussie said he was never directly asked about the topic until today, however it's clear the bubble's potential ramifications on his family life are on his mind. "The NBA is going to make sure they're doing everything to keep everyone safe and healthy, but I'd like to hear exactly what the plans are," Dellavedova said. "They've told us some things that they're planning to do but like everyone else, I want to see what the full picture looks like. There's a lot of different options being thrown around but until there's a plan that's locked in, I think everyone will assess it after that."
Dellavedova said until the NBA delivers a concrete return plan he will remain on the west coast training on his own, but he's fully expecting they will indeed get to finish the season. "It's an interesting situation not knowing if we're going to be coming back. I'm pretty sure the NBA is coming back and they've kind of said that, but they don't know if it's just going to be the playoff teams, or 20 teams, or everybody," he said. "As an athlete you've got to prepare like you're coming back because you just can't turn it on and off."
The National Basketball Association could reach a decision about resuming its suspended season by next week, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry told CNBC on Thursday. The billionaire co-founder of Avenue Capital said on CNBC’s “Halftime” that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will present “different options” about reopening at the league’s board of governors meeting Friday. He added board members will use the weekend to consider proposals.
The Cavs are 19-46. Last in the Eastern Conference, they have the league’s second-worst record overall. Despite their place in the standings, they want to be included in the restart. In an anonymous, informal survey of the organization’s front office members and multiple players, Cleveland’s favored plan is one that centers on all 30 teams going to Florida and being able to play an undetermined amount of games. “We would love the opportunity to join and play games,” a team executive told “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
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September 27, 2021 | 5:18 pm EDT Update
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