While it’s true that the NBA has a likely ally in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, you never quite know where the political winds might shift. A couple of phone calls shuts the NBA’s business down, as so many businesses have been shut down around the country. I had Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on my podcast and he made a point that few others have made: Silver has been fairly politically neutral of late, despite his reputation as the progressive commissioner. The theory Abbott espoused was that this has something to do with the NBA needing allies in government to make this bubble a reality. Many NBA players (and fans) might hate President Donald Trump, but Silver can’t afford to be seen as a Trump enemy right now. As mentioned before, the federal government has the power to undermine the NBA’s operation.
Walton said it is expected that all will pass the NBA protocol in place, which includes two negative COVID-19 test results before rejoining the team in Florida. “We’re still in the protocol,” Walton said during a Zoom media session on Friday afternoon. “I’m not going to get into names, I’ll make that a personal decision, but from the travel party, out of the 35 (member travel party for Orlando), we left four people back. From those four, nobody has passed NBA protocol yet to rejoin us, but we are hopeful that some of them are getting close.” It is known that three Kings players have tested positive for coronavirus over the past several weeks. Buddy Hield, Alex Len, Jabari Parker, as well as a fourth unidentified member of the team.
In the meantime, as the Jazz get acclimated to team basketball once again, both Ingles and Mitchell said they’re trying to find ways to settle into a unique situation. “I mean, honestly, for me, it’s like AAU, really. You know, except for the quarantine part. But it’s been like AAU — I’ve been just relaxing, studying film, and just trying to eat as good as I possibly can,” Mitchell said. “… I’m just staying mentally ready, mentally engaged because I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had practice at 6 o’clock every night. It gives you that feeling of an AAU summer camp or a summertime vibe.”
Upon seeing all this and the execution by the NBA in the first three days, Williams is a full-on believer now. “The NBA has gone above and beyond to give us every chance to be successful,” Williams said. “When you get here and see all the stuff, it’s actually pretty impressive.” The coach said Friday was the first day the Suns saw members of other teams around the complex. Some teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, just arrived and are still undergoing the quarantining the Suns have already wrapped up. “Today, you didn’t have to be in your hotel room all day,” Williams said. “I got out, walked around the lake.”
Eric Woodyard: Jazz's Joe Ingles said the first "48 hours sucked" of being in the Orlando bubble. "When you're in the room for a couple months, it's going to get stanky at times." Says he was with his kids/family 48 hours before this, but the protocol leading up to clearance was "frustrating."
Eric Woodyard: Donovan Mitchell says he continues to rely on Dwyane Wade for advice, but this situation is obviously unique in being away in Orlando bubble. When playoffs begin, he doesn't think the runs will mean as much without fans so that'll be a big difference from his other playoff games.
Erik Horne: Chris Paul on the team being back together: “Zoom calls are nice, but it’s nothing like seeing each other. We’ve got a special team. We genuinely love to be around each other. To get out on the court and hoop with each other was a breath of fresh air.”
Royce Young: Chris Paul said he thought the Mavs' balcony dance party was the best social media post he's seen so far: "To see them outside doing that, having a good time, the more we have those type of interactions and experiences I think the better we'll make this."
Jason Anderson: Kings coach Luke Walton says four members of the team's 35-person travel party did not accompany team to Orlando and have not cleared NBA protocols after testing positive for COVID-19. He would not say who, but Buddy Hield, Alex Len and Jabari Parker all confirmed positive tests.
Brandon Rahbar: Danilo Gallinari says guys brought video games. But the coolest thing was Steven Adams bringing his guitar. He says he plays too so they’re gonna play together sometime. We need a zoom call with the Steven Gallo jam session.
Oleh Kosel: Alvin Gentry on whether all the Pelicans who traveled to Orlando tested negative: "Everyone's here. I don't really know the details of everything, but I know all of our guys are here and they're ready to go."
Mike Fisher: Carlisle on 1st #Mavs practice in Orlando Bubble: 'We're gonna have a great attitude about it. Could go down as one of the unique events in sports history. .. Facilities are great. First practice went really well.' DAL will work again Sat at 2p ET.
As NBA teams get situated in the Orlando bubble, one question that has persisted since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is not only what happens if a player tests positive for the virus but also what lingering effects might follow. "There are unknown effects it has on lung capacity, unknown effects it has on cardiac health," said one NBA general manager of a team entering the bubble, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "What if a 24-year-old catches it in Orlando and, in 14 days, he quarantines and is fine, but then he has these everlasting heart problems? [Or he] gets winded so easily, or he becomes a little bit too susceptible to fatigue. ...These are all the unknowns."
Each case will be handled based on its own needs, but John DiFiori, the NBA's Director of Sports Medicine, told ESPN that the timeline for any player to return from a confirmed positive case is at least two weeks. "Everyone needs to understand that if someone were to test positive, it's quite likely that they won't return to the court for a minimum of two weeks -- minimum," said DiFiori, who is also the Chief of Primary Sports Medicine and attending physician at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery. "It may be even a little longer than that, depending on the individual circumstances, and then you need some time to get reconditioned.”
Are NBA players' hearts more at risk? "We have no reason to believe that any athlete is at higher risk for a complication and cardiac complications related to the coronavirus than anyone else," DiFiori said. "There's no reason that we know that would suggest that right now."
Jovan Buha: Doc Rivers says the Clippers are bringing 15 players — not 17. Their two two-way players, Amir Coffey and Johnathan Motley, aren’t coming to Orlando.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Montrezl Harrell might be the leader in the NBA clubhouse of what he brought with him to Orlando. Reggie Jackson says Montrezl somehow managed to bring a "portable sauna" with him while Lou Williams has a personal studio.
Christian Clark: Pelicans had their first practice in four months today. Alvin Gentry said he got the go-ahead from the NBA the day New Orleans left for Orlando. "I wish it would've been sooner. It wasn't. I'm here."
Ira Winderman: Goran Dragic just said Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn are not with the team. "Hopefully Bam can come and KNunn and we can be a whole team and make some damage.” Two Heat players remained behind due to COVID testing. Heat did not identify the players left back.
Harrison Wind: More from Paul Millsap: He says he brought his own food and is on his own diet at Disney World. "I'm on like a sardine diet with crackers. So I'm good. I don't really look at the food or whatever they have."
Chris Dempsey: Malone said that due to the team having to close their facilities last week, they lost some time to get players in better condition, so they’ll work on that a lot in Orlando.
Andrew Greif: The Clippers have cleared quarantine in Orlando, a source told @latimessports. They are scheduled to practice later this afternoon.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What’s your biggest concern with the bubble and can the NBA actually pull off a restart successfully? Mark Cuban: Obviously, it’s dealing with all the little details that are required to make it work. There are a lot of moving pieces, but I know how many resources that the NBA has dedicated to making this work. I truly believe that the players and staff will be safer in the bubble than they would be anywhere but in their own homes.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Given that certain players are wearing social justice words on the back of their jerseys, how big of a distraction do you think that could be from the NBA’s restart? Mark Cuban: None. It will be something that people talk about, but once the games start fans are going to be fans and love watching the games and people who are not fans will want to commentate. Players are used to ignoring commentary on social legacy and social media, so I don’t think they are distracted by it at all. Plus, this is such a unique situation, my hope is that the players will become closer and stronger together.
The entire NBA operation sits on a foundation of daily testing and then processing results of those tests quickly. Early in the pandemic, the NBA was concerned about having enough tests to administer that daily regimen. While supply issues appear to have been resolved, processing those tests is not quite as simple.
Unlike Major League Baseball, so far teams have not seen significant delays or problems receiving test results, according to sources that spoke with NBC Sports. But there have been hiccups here and there. In the 24 hours before departure for Orlando, one NBA team had its tests accidentally sent to the wrong lab, according to league sources. The mistake forced the entire team to retake the coronavirus tests later in the day, delaying their trip to Orlando by several hours. “This is the new normal,” said one official of a team dealing with testing blips.
If the on-site clinic can’t handle an NBA-related emergency, does the NBA feel comfortable about taking a bed from someone in the general public? “It’s not so much that everybody who gets COVID is going to die from it,” Rasmussen says, “it’s that when the hospitals are overwhelmed and there’s no place for people to go, more people are going to die that wouldn't have necessarily died otherwise.
The weirdest moment, Monty Williams said, was getting on the airplane. Flights are typically commonplace for the Suns, who crisscrossed the United States — and hopped the border to Mexico City and Toronto — over the first 65 games of the 2019-20 season. But Williams had not been on one since mid-March, with the NBA halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was just quieter on the plane,” Williams said during a videoconference with reporters Thursday evening. “I think that’s just because everybody has masks on. You can’t hear each other talk. … Even when you have a big mouth like mine, it still is a bit muffled with the mask on.”
“We have a plan that we put in place that gives me a bit of structure to use as a template every day,” Williams said. “At the same time, I want to try to feel the gym and see if I can push a little bit more or pull back. … “I’m probably a bit more cautious than I’ve ever been, just because we’ve had so much time off. But the plan is in place. It may be modified a little bit, but I want to try to listen and learn as much as I can. Because, it’s basically a new season, a new universe for all of us who are trying to get our guys in shape.”
Jeff Goodman: No complaints from Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson about the food in The Bubble. pic.twitter.com/VS8XlkjC53
Did you have any hesitation about going? What was the thought process behind deciding to go? Patrick Patterson: "For myself, yeah, a little bit of hesitation, just due to a lot of uncertainty, family situations, wanting to be at home with my wife, and then on top of that, just with everything that’s been going on in the world. So do I feel safer in the bubble in that environment, or do I feel safer at home in the environment I can control? Do I trust the NBA to truly put us in the best situation and look out for our best interests? There was a little back-and-forth in the beginning, but, ultimately, having a chance to win a championship and being around my teammates again outweighed the no and was more of a factor toward the yes."
So when you decide, “OK, I’m going,” how do you prepare for this unknown situation and to potentially be in there for three months? Patrick Patterson: "Just being able to adjust on the fly. The [NBA has] been pretty open with us about everything that’s going to be here, everything that’s going to be provided for us, the schedule, the layout, schematics. They’ve been asking us questions. They’ve been taking our feedback, as far as things that we need and things that we want. I feel like each team is different. Each team has players that like to do certain things whenever they’re not playing basketball in their free time, in their spare time. So [they’re] just making sure that they can accommodate each and every individual’s need as a mass, as a whole."
For you, and for the Clippers in general, what are those things that you guys like doing down there? Patrick Patterson: "For me, I’m a big movie buff. So I think once we’re out of this quarantine situation, being able to go to the movie theater, watch a movie that they provide for us, an early release of a film that comes out in the future. Video games. So having the player-only lounge, and having games, ping-pong tables, all types of stuff set up, foosball and whatever else it may be. Then just peacefulness, quiet. It’s a big resort. So there’s a lot of space. Just being able to go somewhere quiet and just relax, read, just get my mind off of things."
Patrick Patterson: "For us, we have guys that love to fish. I think it’s well known Paul George is a huge fisherman. Same thing with [Montrezl Harrell]. So they love to be out on the water, having access to boats. I think they have a couple of lakes here. Some guys enjoy playing spades, booray, card games, or whatever it may be. So being sure and having tables to provide for that. Some guys love old-school video games, arcade style, so they have an arcade here. Outdoor things, too—trails, bike trails, and courses to be able to go biking on."
Fred Katz: Troy Brown on heading to Florida amidst spiking COVID numbers: "At the end of the day, we have a job, and we have to do our jobs." Says he thinks the NBA has done a good job of putting players in a safe environment. “If people don’t wanna be here, you don’t have to."
The current food situation inside the Orlando bubble looks like airline travel grub based on tweets sent out by NBA players. As bland and dry as it appears to be, Monty Williams said he's seen worse. A lot worse.
"It's not that bad, man," Williams said during Thursday's media call. "My grandparents raised me in Spotsylvania, Virginia, man. I know what it's like to eat some different stuff. It's not that bad at all. I think so many of us are spoiled and we're used to eating certain foods a certain way, but to be honest, it's not bad at all."
Tell that to the players who receive hand-crafted meals to their specific liking. "The guys who have personal chefs at home, they may have a different sentiment than I do, but I'm actually OK with it," Williams concluded.
They had just arrived to Orlando, FL from Washington, D.C. for the NBA's restart. They had to wait those 36 hours and test negative for coronavirus twice before going free. "The forced relaxation drove me crazy. It was the weirdest thing," Brooks said.
Still, getting out in the open floor and scrimmaging was a major step for the Wizards as they look towards July 31, their first regular season game. "I thought the practice was outstanding. I was real concerned because we hadn't done anything live," Brooks said.
"I don't know how they did it, how the NBA was able to get it all done. Our facility here, our gym is pretty incredible. The weight room is amazing. The hotels are great. Everything is good. I have no complaints. It's just like a road trip for us." "It just felt good to be out there," Smith said. "It was very similar to a normal practice that we would have, just coaches have gloves and masks on."
Mark Berman: PJ Tucker never considered opting out & not playing.He hopes to win the NBA title:"I think anybody can win it so I say why not us" And he hopes to finish his career n Houston:"I want to retire as a Houston Rocket. I hope we can strike a deal & get it done" tinyurl.com/y6w3q4fa
Terrence Ross ( @TerrenceRoss ) gives us a sneak peak at the NBA players’ game room/lounge. It includes PlayStation 4’s, arcade games, ping pong tables, a pool table, and a seating area.
For Wizards point guard Ish Smith, though, it's no big deal at all. He was asked about the food and gave the type of humble, down-to-earth answer you would expect from him. "I'm okay. I'm low maintenance and I'm thankful for anything and everything. You're asking the wrong person. You might have to ask somebody else who lives a little bit more of a high maintenance life," he said. "For me, I'm thankful, I'm blessed. They bring us food, we eat it. I have no problems."
Ben Cafardo: BasketballESPN NBA reporter @Malika_Andrews displays the social distance monitor/buzzer folks in Orlando are receiving to remind each other to stay six feet apart.
Will the Chicago Bulls front office be able to travel to Orlando to scout players? — @chisportupdates, via Twitter The last time I checked on this with the league, I was told no. It’s why this is such an unprecedented and difficult time for these eight teams. It’s such a competitive disadvantage to essentially not be part of the league as it resumes play.
Mark Berman: Forward PJ Tucker flew with the #Rockets to Florida. He never thought for one second about opting out: “I want to play basketball. I love playing basketball. I got an eight-year-old son that loves watching me play. He’s so excited right now. He’s super-hyped for me to go play...”
Andrew Greif: Clippers forward JaMychal Green is expected to join the team in Orlando on Sunday, sources told myself and @Brad Turner. He’s tending to a family matter but will join soon.
Kellan Olson: Monty Williams said he does think the bubble will work. Said he doesn't think players are getting enough credit for how much they want to play. He has expectations but understands players will have temptations and miss their families.
Gerald Bourguet: "It's not that bad, man." -- Monty Williams on the food situation in Orlando. "So many of us are spoiled and we're used to eating certain foods a certain way, but it's not bad at all." Also admits he didn't have high expectations
The Denver Nuggets expect All-Star center Nikola Jokic to arrive in Orlando from his native Serbia to join the team for the NBA restart in the next couple of days, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 in June, but has since tested negative consecutively and is cleared to enter the campus at Walt Disney World.
This is a solid step for the organization after the initial shock of its franchise player contracting the virus outside of the United States. Jokic is in good health, sources said.
Ava Wallace: Garrison Mathews, Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton did not travel with the Wizards to Orlando, per sources. Mathews for personal reasons. Bryant and Payton have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Eric Walden: Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert noted that "Staying in a room for 36 hours is not the best thing to do," but said he's appreciated the NBA's level of caution. Said he passed that time by playing Call of Duty, reading a little bit, and sleeping.
Eric Walden: Rudy Gobert, on the wristbands everyone is required to wear, which function as a proximity alarm and provide data tracking: "It's better to be too cautious than not enough." Said his alarm hasn't gone off yet; doesn't know if it's not activated or if he's distancing well.
Andy Larsen: Rudy Gobert, on why he chose "Equality" to go on his jersey: "I think Equality is a powerful word... It's something that we can strive to attain as a society... I think we'd be lying to ourselves if we thought that was the case today. We've got to keep pushing in that direction."
Eric Walden: Asked how he spent his time in quarantine, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder replied: "Having 36 hours-plus by yourself, you gotta be careful not to overthink things — which I may have a tendency to do."
Ohm Youngmisuk: Scott Brooks says everyone looks forward to time away and relaxing at a nice hotel but this was more “forced relaxation” when Wiz quarantined for 2 days. He said outside of Zoom workout/yoga sessions, FaceTiming family and texting players, he went crazy trying to pass the time.
Fred Katz: Ish Smith says Disney World is “exactly how I remember it.” Says he’s been double-digit times. First time staying at the Yacht Club.
The program, known as KINEXON SafeZone, has already been used successfully in the German BBL in their recently-completed tournament. Where the focus for the BBL was on contact tracing data being stored in case of a positive COVID-19 test, however, the NBA is currently more interested in the proximity alarm features of the technology, sources say. Player and staff use of KINEXON technology is optional, per sources.
There remains a possibility that KINEXON SafeZone is utilized further by the NBA for contact tracing data collection in Orlando, per sources, though no agreement has been reached at this point. Such a program would also be fully anonymous, and would allow for detailed tracing of recent contacts for any player or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 within the bubble - potentially allowing play to continue without significant risk of a major outbreak within the campus.
Shams Charania: Houston stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook did not travel with Rockets today to Orlando and will join the team in near future, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Jonathan Feigen: Can confirm that James Harden and Russell Westbrook were not on the flight to Orlando, per source. Luc Mbah a Moute and player development coach John Lucas also did not fly with the team.
Fred Katz: Scott Brooks says “a couple of guys didn’t make the trip” to Orlando. Said he can’t get into who it was because they can’t reveal certain medical information.
Chase Hughes: Scott Brooks on living in the bubble: "It's actually pretty good. I don't know how they did it." Said gym and workout resources are great.
Sean Cunningham: 😂😂 “The bubble (in Orlando) is Netflix without the chill,” - Sacramento Kings assistant coach Bobby Jackson tells @Sports1140KHTK
As the players await their opportunity to return to the court, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and others turned their separate balconies in their neighboring hotel rooms into an impressive DJ set in front of ... the lake their balconies overlooked.
Mavericks players are currently awaiting results for their COVID-19 tests they took upon their arrival in Florida as a part of the NBA’s plan for a safe return to play. Players must test negative for COVID-19 twice, at least 24 hours apart, as part of the mandatory 48-hour quarantine.
Tim MacMahon: Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni, 69, is on the team flight en route to Orlando, a source told ESPN. He has said recently that his medical screenings didn't raise any red flags and that he planned to coach as usual, other than wearing a mask.
Jonathan Feigen: Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni will be part of the Rockets traveling party to Orlando this afternoon. He said he did not anticipate any issues having provided the information the NBA sought.
December 3, 2022 | 8:06 pm EST Update
But Jalen Brunson, probably the best player on the team this season, doesn’t believe disasters like Saturday’s 121-100 loss should fall on Tom Thibodeau. “Coach Thibs has done a great job,” Brunson said. “He’s been able to put us in positions where we need to succeed. I think he knows where to put those puzzle pieces. It’s just on us to actually execute and do things. So it’s just — I know he’s going to get a lot of the blame, guys are going to get some of the blame. It’s on us. We’re the players out there not battling. It’s his job to put us in positions which he’s done.”
Law Murray: Asked Tyronn Lue about managing the messaging surrounding Clippers injuries, specifically Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. “You’re not going to sit out 8-9 games in a row because you want to sit out… they’re hurt, and they’re doing everything they can to get back.” pic.twitter.com/YQiGIA97Se
December 3, 2022 | 7:01 pm EST Update
Law Murray: Ty Lue on considering John Wall as a starter with Jackson struggling: “There’s consideration for a lot of things.” Mentioned minute restriction as the primary reason why that move isn’t a priority right now. Says Jackson ok, but team has to manage him playing through discomfort
Anthony Chiang: Heat has sent Nikola Jovic, Dru Smith, Jamal Cain for work with its G League affiliate in Sioux Falls. Jovic and Smith are expected to be back with the Heat for Monday’s game vs. Grizzlies. Cain will remain with the Sioux Falls Skyforce for longer.