Several high-profile players have been communicating with others en masse about the financial and practical implications if they don’t play, sources said. If there are no more games, the owners can and will likely activate the force majeure clause and re-open the collective bargaining agreement, and the players would have little leverage with the owners because of how the economy has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every business deal the league has will be up for renegotiation, which could be a nightmare for players because of the way revenue has risen over the last several years. The salary cap is already expected to take a dip this offseason due to the postponed season.
“There’s no bigger platform than playing and being able to get your message out there,” a high-ranking black executive told Yahoo Sports, but he was not aware of the players’ specific plans to spread their message. “It’s understandable to have concerns, especially the guys who are parents and may have their kids during the summers because of custody arrangements. I can see players being against some of the restrictions of the bubble.”
Tim Reynolds: Per source, Disney personnel on-site for NBA restart will all be in PPE (masks, gloves where appropriate) at all times. They'll also undergo daily screening, including temperature checks. Also: hotel workers will be assigned certain areas and won't rotate thru properties.
Shams Charania: Sources: Protocols for Disney staff working NBA return site: - Always wearing facemasks/gloves - Strict physical distancing, never within 6 feet of NBA participant - Temperature/symptom checks - Housekeeping staff will never be in the room at same time as NBA participants
Vincent Goodwill: Yahoo sources cont’d: The high profile players are also relaying that the NBPA won’t have any leverage negotiating a new CBA with owners in the middle of a pandemic
Eric Woodyard: Following the recent black killings, racial injustice and coronavirus pandemic, Pacers’ Myles Turner says he’s in great physical shape, but mentally, “still got a little more work to do” before he can fully focus on a return to basketball this season with all that’s going on. pic.twitter.com/si3wICbYLH
Shams Charania: Health and safety: The NBA's required coronavirus testing window for teams: June 23-30, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
“What everyone wants to know is how likely is it that an athlete would suffer long-term lung or other organ damage that jeopardizes their career,” Binney says. “My response to that is nobody on planet Earth, that we know of, has had this disease for more than seven months. It’s literally impossible for me to tell you that. I literally can’t tell you anything about what this disease does in a human body after seven months. That knowledge doesn’t exist in the universe.”
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv will pay a fine of 30,000 Israeli shekels because Amar’e Stoudemire broke the quarantine rules implemented by the Israeli league ahead of the 2019-20 Winner League resumption, his team announced on Friday. The 37-year-old big man warned he had no intention to follow the protocols set by the Israeli league. He was ultimately spotted wearing a mask in a mall at Tel Aviv.
Per Maccabi: “Amar’e Stoudemire is a single parent living with his son. We saw the photos where he was seen shopping at a shopping center adjacent to his residence with a mask on his face. According to the guidelines, Amara is not allowed to go outside and shop and this is a violation of the guidelines. Players must adhere to the rules and the club severely considers any directive violation. All players must follow the rules. It is worth mentioning that the team conducted it’s second covid-19 test yesterday. Amar’e tested negative to the virus by the results we got this morning.”
Marc Stein: Portland's Carmelo Anthony to @Ernie Johnson: "As far as actually playing ... I'm still up in the air a little bit because we don't have all the details. We don't know a lot of information, so until we have that, it's kind of hard to just commit to it 100 percent"
The NBA expects the conference finals will end within a maximum of 82 days, leaving the two NBA finalists, sources said. The league expects the NBA Finals could start by Sept. 30. Several roster rules that the NBA and NBPA have agreed upon are expected to govern the league's resumption at the at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, according to sources.
Free-agent players such as DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas -- who played in the NBA this season -- and those who weren't on NBA rosters this season -- JR Smith and Jamal Crawford, for example -- are eligible to sign into open roster spots. Teams won't be allowed to sign international players, such as Nikola Mirotic, who weren't on NBA rosters this season.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Some timetables on 22 teams in Orlando: 6 teams eliminated after 35-40 days (based on play-in elimination). 14 total teams will be gone by 53 days, at latest.
Adrian Wojnarowski: More timetables in Orlando: After second-round of playoffs -- a maximum of 67 days -- four teams will be left on the Disney campus. After conference finals -- a max of 82 days -- there will be two finalists.
The Trail Blazers are one of the 22 teams participating in the restart of the NBA season in Orlando, July 31. Do you feel secure about your safety in regard to the coronavirus, and do you think the plan for the top 16 teams plus six more is fair? Damian Lillard: As a competitor I’m happy we will get an opportunity to continue and try to make a run in the playoffs. I am a little concerned about the risk we’re taking dealing with the virus, but the NBA will take all precautions into consideration to keep us safe. I think the plan going forward is fair.
As players have started to come to terms with the restrictive and isolated nature of the Orlando bubble --- including no visitors until after the first round of the playoffs nearly seven weeks after the opening of mid-July training camp -- there's been increased dialogue about the prudence of restarting the season for a number of players, especially those on non-championship contenders, sources said.
Executives and coaches around the NBA have had significant concern about how players will adapt to an environment unlike any they've ever experienced -- and how those hurdles could impact the sustained competitive drive for teams. And many have worried, too, especially on those teams that aren't title contenders, if some players will start seeking avenues to bypass the resumption all together.
Players are citing a number of concerns, including family situations, the inability to leave the Disney World Resort campus, COVID-19 and the implications surrounding the emergence of social justice causes in the country, sources said. Participants in Orlando -- including players -- will not be allowed to leave the bubble environment without a 10-day quarantine upon returning to the Disney grounds, sources said.
The NBA is roughly 50 days away from its proposed restart and legitimate reasons exist why the wait is that long. It’s not all about training camps and getting players fit, although that’s certainly critical. Mostly, as Mavericks’ vice president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said, it’s because sports has never had to deal with life-and-death realities like this. Basketball is back, but a lot of hurdles are in front of the return and some could be very challenging to clear.
“We’re trying to get it right, as a country, as an organization and individually,” Nelson said. “Listen, it’s just baby steps. Every step, you’re measuring the risk to your players, your family. We’re all measuring risk. “Death has never been on the table before. In sports, think about this, show up and if you’re unlucky, you might not make it. I mean, there’s always a heart attack or lightning that can strike. But think about that. As an organization, for our fans and our family, death has never been on the table.”
To illustrate how many steps must be covered before the NBA is actually back, Nelson explained what the Mavericks’ practice facility looks like right now. “Currently it’s one player, one basket, one heavily masked coach,” Nelson said. “I think as soon as we get a step beyond that, it’ll give the players confidence. “We have to get to two-on-two, three-on-three and eventually five-on-five. We have, like, a month and two weeks to get there. Right now, it gets pretty old when you’re sitting there and those poor coaches, they can barely breathe, man.”
One thing the NBA has on its side at the moment is time. Things are changing by the day and nobody knows how quickly things could improve (or not) with regard to the coronavirus. “I’m ready. I’m ready,” owner Mark Cuban said. “Safety first, as always. But obviously the science is improving, the testing is improving. Hopefully we’ll get to the point where there’s a vaccine and that will give us more confidence. And we’ll start playing games July 31st. I’m excited about that. It’s my birthday. It’s going to be a great birthday present.”
Early in the hiatus, Embiid pledged $500,000 to COVID-19 relief and research efforts. Embiid thought it was important to give back: “Being where I’m from, the way I grew up, I saw a lot of struggle. Being in my position, where I have the power to change people’s lives, and to help people, it’s just me. I didn’t even have to think twice about it. That’s the way my parents raised me, that’s the way I was brought up. Add in the fact that growing up in Africa, in Cameroon, all the struggle that I saw - it’s only right for me to make that kind of gesture… I want to keep doing it, and help as many people as I can.”
One of the significant factors in establishing risk for health complications due to the coronavirus is advanced age, which leaves three head coaches among those in the league's 22-team July restart -- New Orleans' Alvin Gentry (65), Houston's Mike D'Antoni (69) and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich (71) -- perhaps vulnerable to recommendations of those evaluations, sources said.
The NBA is nearing completion on a voluminous health and safety guide detailing the protocols for the 22 teams involved in the league's resumption at The Walt Disney World Resort, sources said. Personnel are expected to begin an evaluation process by submitting medical information to their individual team doctors, who will then share that with at least one more non-team affiliated physician before a recommendation would be rendered, sources said.
Limitations to D'Antoni, Gentry and Popovich could leave their three teams at a significant competitive disadvantage in Orlando. Executives with the three franchises -- and elders of the National Basketball Coaches Association -- have been in consistent contact with the league office on the matter, sources said. D'Antoni and Gentry have been publicly and privately frustrated with the possibility that they could be left off the team's bench -- or even left out of the bubble -- and fear a decision to limit or omit them could become death knells to their careers.
Legal experts consulted by ESPN, including a top attorney in the Miami office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, agreed unanimously the NBA could not exclude any personnel from participating in Orlando solely on the basis of age. That would not change even if all personnel over a certain age agreed to a medical review before heading to Orlando, and the review highlighted risk factors linked to more severe outcomes from any coronavirus infection, experts said.
"You can't base an adverse employment decision solely on the possibility that someone's age puts them at higher risk to get sick, or have more serious symptoms," Robert Weisberg, regional attorney at the EEOC's Miami office, told ESPN.
Forcibly excluding such personnel could implicate both the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and (perhaps more important) the Americans with Disabilities Act, experts said. The ADEA bars employment standards that more harshly impact older workers even if they are applied to everyone. There are exceptions if employers can prove "a reasonable factor other than age" -- perhaps a pre-existing medical condition in this instance -- is at the root of any prohibition, legal experts said.
But in a legal memo released last month, the EEOC made it clear that under the Americans with Disabilities Act employers may not exclude employees "solely because" of any risk factor "that places him at higher risk for severe illness if he gets COVID-19." The ADA allows exceptions in cases in which the risk factor "poses a direct threat to [the employee's] health that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation," the memo states. The "direct threat" standard is hard for employers to meet, legal experts said. Everything the NBA has planned Orlando -- strict quarantines, social distancing, frequent testing and temperature checks - in effect mimics a "reasonable accommodation" designed to reduce risk.
With the next NBA season not expected to start until at least Dec. 1, that calls into some serious question whether that could overlap with Olympic qualifying tournaments that some nations will need to endure in June 2021 and the Tokyo Games themselves the following month. And Kerr, who is slated to be an assistant under San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich for USA Basketball in Tokyo, said Tuesday that he doesn’t have any idea how the schedule will work. “Believe it or not, I haven’t had a single conversation with Pop about that,” Kerr said. “And the reason is because we don’t know. We’ve been talking almost daily now for the last couple of weeks and before that we were speaking once every few weeks. So, we haven’t even had a single conversation because there’s nothing to report.”
Toronto coach Nick Nurse is scheduled to coach Canada in that qualifying tournament and, he hopes, the Olympics. But he expects that international travel is one of the last things that will return to normal, or whatever the new normal will be in a world dealing with COVID-19. So, he’s like Kerr and left wondering what’ll happen. “It’s complicated, is my best thought,” Nurse said. “I just don’t know enough to tell you what next season is going to look like. I don’t know. When’s it going to start? I think they’re talking about pushing it back, but I don’t know if they’re going to play games closer together. I don’t think so, that’s kind of a thing that everybody’s been happy that they continue to spread them out and lessen the back-to-backs and all those things.
Malika Andrews: On a call with reporters, Wolves’ Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders spoke extensively about supporting their players who participate in #blacklivesmatter protests. Rosas said the team works to make sure players who are protesting in Minneapolis have PPE and are tested for COVID.
Chris Grenham: Enes Kanter shared some of the Celtics’ new protocols at the Auerbach Center on his IG: pic.twitter.com/WxSDWbhrD1
After years of steady growth, compensation packages for head coaches are expected to diminish as revenue projections crater due to the fallout from the coronavirus. While a couple of teams might splurge for a candidate they feel they can't live without, robust four-year deals for $5 million to $6 million a year for coaches who have never paced a sideline in June will be harder to come by. Likewise, average annual salaries for first-timers will shrink. And some teams could opt for a rookie head coach to save money. It's not just head coaches, either. First, second and even third assistants who have seen tremendous growth in their pay stubs may see a rollback, and coaching staffs that have grown in numbers could be contracted in size. No two vacancies are the same, and recognizing the characteristics of an opening reveals a lot about how an organization defines its current mission and where it is in its developmental arc. The following list details how each of those categories are defined by the insiders we spoke to.
Now that the NBA has a plan for a return to play, teams are beginning to prepare for the league to reopen. Only 22 teams are invited back to play games in Orlando, but all teams must still prepare for the draft and free agency. On Monday, the league held a call with player agents to discuss plans over the coming months. All plans are subject to change due to the uncertain future of the coronavirus pandemic. But here’s what was shared on that call, all according to league sources.
Players currently living outside the country are advised to return to their team’s city on June 15. Players currently in the United States should return on June 22. The date for international players is one week earlier because some states have required quarantine periods for people arriving from overseas. However, Raptors and Nets players could have the option to go elsewhere ahead of time; Toronto has complications due to international travel, and Brooklyn has one of the highest coronavirus rates in the country. The NBA is still working with those teams on a place for them to go. Under this timeline, teams would begin testing players for the coronavirus on June 23, likely every other day. Teams would then undergo a two-week training camp.
Not all teams will arrive in Orlando at the same time. Arrival times will be staggered to reduce the risk of infection. The exact dates and times are still to be determined, but all teams are tentatively scheduled to arrive between July 7 and 9. Upon arrival, all team members will be tested and then could be quarantined in their rooms for 36 hours. Daily testing will follow the quarantine period. The league is exploring the use of a saliva mouth swab to replace the uncomfortable deep-nasal swab often used for the coronavirus.
If a player tests positive, they will need to quarantine for at least 10 days and have two negative tests before rejoining their team. The same is true if a player leaves the league’s Disney World campus, which will be closed off to the public. If a player leaves and returns, they will need to quarantine for at least 10 days and test negative twice before rejoining.
Looking ahead to next season: Certain players have guaranteed contract dates or player option dates that must be sorted out. The solution being negotiated is straightforward: The date would change in proportion to the original calendar. Gordon Hayward and Andre Drummond, for example, had until June 29, two days before the old first day of free agency on July 1, to pick up their options for next season. Under this proposal, that date would move to October 16, two days before the new free agency opening on October 18.
McGee, the Lakers center, has asthma and suffered from pneumonia last year, two things that could put him at greater risk if he had a COVID-19 infection. McGee said recently that he does not worry about the illness. While McGee isn’t worried, others are. Some players are concerned about visiting older family members after exposing themselves during play.
“I would wait until it was all over, but I think that just the fact that I would be there [in Orlando] already, knowing that as soon as this is over I can go home it would make it a lot easier,” said Maurice Harkless, speaking before it was known that his Knicks would not be among the teams invited to Orlando, where he has relatives. Harkless did not go back to see his family after the season was suspended, because he’d played against two teams, the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz, who had players test positive for COVID-19. “My grandma is really old,” Harkless said. “I didn’t want to risk it not knowing, so I came here [to L.A.].”
Tim Reynolds: Another 62 positive COVID tests in Orange County, Fla. - home of Disney - were reported yesterday. That's 257 in the last 5 days, or roughly the same amount from the previous 9 days. In mid-May about 1% of all tests in Orange were coming back positive. The rate last week: 2.38%.
The #NuestraMejoVictoria solidarity initiative, promoted by the Spanish athletes Pau Gasol and Rafa Nadal together with Red Cross, has raised over 14 million euros, thus exceeding “by far” the goal set when it was launched with the aim of helping those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tim Reynolds: Much of the Disney resort -- where the NBA plans to play starting next month -- is in Orange County, which saw 195 new cases of COVID-19 over a four-day span ending Friday, per state records. Over a four-day span from May 7-10, 40 cases were diagnosed there. Something to watch.
Thaddeus Young acknowledged he wished he and the Bulls were going to Orlando with the chosen 22 teams and was confident he'd be fine. He said his health worries are about family. "Everybody has a concern about contracting the virus, but you have guys that understand we have to play also in order to keep the league moving forward," Young said. "For me, I worry more along the lines of my family's aspect. We have a young league and a lot of these guys in the league they don't have kids or they don't have a family. They may have a girlfriend that they're dealing with. Besides that, it's just kind of them. My worry is more along the lines of me being with all the other guys and then coming back home to my family.”
It was less than three months ago that a single confirmed case prompted the entire league to shut down, and Jeff Van Gundy, the longtime coach and ESPN analyst, isn’t sure how players will react if the virus surfaces. “Right now we’re somewhat underestimating the fear of that scenario,” Jeff Van Gundy told the Daily News. “For the players on the guy’s team, for the players who have played against that team or will play against that team or that will play against that team. I’m not sure we know — because I know I don’t know, if that fear is going to be more than I expect, less than I expect.”
Van Gundy also noted that the reaction might be dictated by who contracts the virus. “And what if, God forbid, it happens to one of our star players?” Van Gundy says. “It’s one thing if it happens to a 12th man, for competitive reasons, but also for the amount of fear it drives. What if it happens to one of the all-time guys in league?”
Nets Daily: I don't expect this to happen with the new Nets or with most NBA players but during the lockout season, some players believed the season was over and let themselves go. One Nets player arrived in camp 35 pounds overweight.
Several other aspects of the NBA’s return were discussed, which The Athletic learned via sources: – A plan to play 2-to-3 exhibition games before regular season – 1,600 maximum people on campus – Coronavirus testing every day; minimum seven days of quarantine for a player who tests positive – Players and family must stay inside the bubble; families can enter after the first round – If a player contracts the virus, the NBA says they plan to continue playing
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBPA informed players today that NBA/NBPA will conduct coronavirus testing every night during resumed season -- likely mouth swabs/light nasal swabs and not full invasive nasal swab. Minimum seven days quarantine for a player if positive.
Vancouver’s Doug Eberhardt is a skills development coach with the Houston Rockets. He had to be quarantined back in mid-March as the NBA shut things down after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. “For the players being young and in superior condition, the fear [of the virus] isn’t so much their own physical being, as much as it is the potential to spread it to others. The fear [of COVID-19] is always going to be a part of it.” Eberhardt says.
Testing and safety is the greatest concern for returning to action for any league in any part of the world, and though there won’t be details released on that right away, it sounds like the NBA has a plan in place. “The league is not expected to stop play because of a single positive test,” Eberhardt says. “The NBA would look at isolating that person, continuing to monitor both that player and their colleagues. An outbreak within a team though, would be problematic, and obviously they would have to re-evaluate if that happened.”
In mid-May, after the NBA suspended its season, officials at the NBPA organized a Zoom call with players. They sought to focus on mental health -- to listen to concerns and provide resources -- and wanted to interact with a specific group that they found was experiencing the pandemic in a different way. The session was led by Dr. William D. Parham, the NBPA's director of mental health and wellness, and former NBA guard and NBPA Player Wellness Counselor, Keyon Dooling, "[Letting them know] that they have support of the brotherhood is very important," Dooling said.
About 30 international players dialed in from cities around the U.S., sharing concerns about loved ones thousands of miles away and about when and how they might be able to see them again. They asked about their ability to leave the country and come back, about their family members' ability to leave and come back, and whether family members would be able to join a "bubble" environment if the NBA season resumes. The call, originally scheduled for an hour, went for more than 90 minutes. For as many different languages and backgrounds as the players shared and for as much as they've been in isolation in recent months, they found common ground. "They discovered that everybody is in the same storm," Zuretti said.
These conversations struck a chord for Zuretti, particularly his personal communications with San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Nicolo Melli and Oklahoma City Thunder wing Danilo Gallinari. They are the NBA's three active Italian players, and Zuretti too hails from Italy, specifically Rome, where his family members still live. "I'm walking in their shoes," he said, "so I know how it feels."
June 15, 2021 | 1:23 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Nets‘ James Harden plans to play tonight in Game 5 vs. Milwaukee barring a setback in pregame warmups, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . He’s been upgraded to questionable.
June 15, 2021 | 12:30 pm EDT Update
Gary Washburn: #Celtics assistant coach Jerome Allen has officially accepted an offer to join Dwane Casey’s staff with the Detroit #Pistons according to an NBA source. Allen was one of Brad Stevens’ assistants who interviewed for the BOS job.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Detroit is finalizing deals to hire three new assistants to Dwane Casey’s staff: Boston’s Jerome Allen, ex-Indiana assistant Bill Bayno and Sacramento’s Rex Kalamian, sources tell ESPN. Kalamian, Bayno worked for Casey in Toronto. Allen interviewed for Celtics HC job last week.
Sarah K. Spencer: I asked Nate McMillan what stood out to him the most about Trae Young’s performance last night (18 assists, just 2 turnovers, 25 points). “He called a lot of plays last night on his own, & we want to build off of that, giving him the freedom to call sets & get guys involved.”