“Obviously, I would love to be coming back to Toronto,” guard Fred VanVleet said last week. “I haven’t been since March, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Toronto has turned into my second home. Obviously, we miss the city, but I think we’ve gotta be excited about what’s ahead of us. I can’t not be excited about it, it won’t make the experience that great. We were in Florida for a while with the bubble in Orlando, and right back there in Tampa, so hopefully it’s a good experience.”
The 2019 NBA champions spent a couple of months in Orlando — about an hour and 10 minutes east of Tampa – in the bubble before being eliminated by Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. (The Raptors were also the first non-Florida team on the ground in the Sunshine State, having held camp at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers in late June.) They have some recent intel on life in Florida. But this is still going to be a major disruption. While the NBA’s other 29 teams will have at least some sense of normalcy being back in their home arenas this season, the Raptors will be displaced — again — and likely practicing at hotels and other makeshift locations. How big will Toronto’s competitive disadvantage be?
In addition: There will clearly be at least some competitive disadvantage for the Raptors this season, playing in an unfamiliar city without any of their longtime fans present, compared with the other 29 teams, who will at least be in familiar locker rooms and sleeping in their own beds after home games. Also unique to the Raptors: They’ll have to deal with the Super Bowl, currently scheduled to be played at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 7. That will make securing accommodations for players in the days before that game all that much more difficult. In addition, no one can say with certainty at present how long a lease players should agree to sign while in Florida: Six months? Nine months? A year?
What happens if and when a player tests positive? Any time a player tests positive for COVID-19, he will have to go through a series of steps before being able to play again.
If the player is asymptomatic, he must sit out for 10 days from when first testing positive, then pass a cardiac screen and, finally, work out alone at the team facility for two more days before being allowed to return to full team activities -- assuming there are no issues. If the player is symptomatic, he must sit out for 10 days from when symptoms subside, then follow the same path as asymptomatic players.
If a player gets a serious case of COVID-19 -- up to and including going to the hospital -- he would have to work out alone for three days, rather than two, before being cleared to return to team activities, assuming everything checks out. Basically, fans can expect that if a player tests positive, he will be unable to play for at least two weeks -- and if he shows symptoms, that time frame could easily grow longer
What happens if an individual or a team breaks COVID-19 protocol? It remains unclear how the NBA will handle potential fines for breaking COVID-19 protocol. The league is still finalizing how it will handle violations, but expect the NBA to follow the NFL's lead in that fines will likely vary depending on the severity of each violation. The NFL has fined a number of teams for not properly wearing masks. The league also fined Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins just under $5,000 for making a reservation for a family friend at the team hotel.
Will games be suspended for positive tests? Much like the NFL, potential game suspensions or postponements will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. NFL teams have tried to play through the schedule when only a handful of players test positive in an organization, but schedules have had to be altered in outbreak situations. The NBA remains confident in its protocols, but it remains to be seen how it will handle the situation if several players on one team test positive at the same time
Shams Charania: Targeted NBA deadline for players to be waived and eligible for postseason rosters: April 9, sources said.
Joe Mussatto: The OKC-County Health Department issues a statement supporting the Thunder’s decision to not allow fans at home games. pic.twitter.com/rIHlpAkliL
Marc Stein: Still to be finalized, of course, is a firm NBA trade deadline for the 2020-21 season The league said earlier this week that its revised All-Star plans for this season will also be announced at a later date
Malika Andrews: Each team’s traveling party for the 2020-21 season will be limited to 45 people (including up to 17 players), per health and safety protocol. That is a slightly bigger traveling party than teams were allowed for the Bubble. Teams must register initial traveling party by Dec. 10.
Mark Medina: Per the NBA's memo sent to owners, GMs & training staffs: Nov. 24-30 – Voluntary individual workouts Dec. 1-5 - Training camp for required individual workouts. Dec. 6-10 – Training Camp for required group workouts. Dec. 11-21 Preseason. Dec. 22 -onwards) - Regular season.
Shams Charania: NBA-NBPA Core Health and Safety Principles for 2020-21 season: pic.twitter.com/IjtYUPPi77
Adrian Wojnarowski: Under "Circumstances for Cancellation of 2020-2021 season," NBA says: Occurrence of independent cases (i.e, cases not spread among players or team staff) or a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the 2020-21 season.
Rick Bonnell: Heard something interesting about training camp rosters: There are NBA teams not planning to bring the maximum number of allowable players to camp, on the reasoning that adds to potential COVID risk/complications. That means some teams would not have any more players than available roster spots. The downside: Fewer bodies to scrimmage, particularly if you have nagging injuries holding out rotation players.
Joe Mullinax: Coach Taylor Jenkins says training camp begins as early as December 4th but could be December 6th, as per the NBA. He hopes to start the 4th as long as COVID isn’t an issue.
Eric Woodyard: All-Star Rudy Gobert to ESPN on Utah Jazz allowing limited fans in arena: “I think that if they make it happen they probably have the scientific evidence that it would be safe for us and for the fans in attendance.” Gobert was the 1st NBA player to test positive for COVID-19.
Andy Larsen: Jazz announce their intentions to have 1,500 fans in the lower bowl only of Jazz games at Vivint Arena this season. “The Jazz believe this is a responsible way to start the season from a public health and safety standpoint," Jazz President Jim Olson said.
Eric Nehm: The Bucks just announced that their games in the 2020-21 season will be held without fans until further notice in accordance with state and local guidelines. Full release here: pic.twitter.com/LrPJqlJ9q0
Marc Stein: NBA teams have been notified that no more than 50 people at one time will be allowed in practice facilities this season, @NYTSports has learned The full range of health and safety protocols for the coming season, sources say, are still being finalized by the league and union
Chris Mannix: In what reinforces why the Raptors won't play in Canada, at least to start the season: Toronto is going into a 28-day lockdown, effective Monday. COVID-19 infections have been on the rise.
Ryan Wolstat: Masai Ujiri on Raptors heading to Tampa: "Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida."
San Francisco’s Department of Public Health rejected the Warriors’ ambitious plan to bring back more than 9,000 spectators to games during the upcoming NBA season, while pledging to work with the team to host fans at Chase Center once the coronavirus pandemic eases.
Warriors officials hatched their plan — which included coronavirus testing for all spectators ahead of games — over the past eight months. The protocols would have been the first of their kind and could have marked a new phase in the return of spectators to sports in the U.S. But local officials told The Chronicle last week that they were wary of the idea, especially as the state experiences its fastest increase of cases since the pandemic began.
Kellan Olson: NBA announced the structure and format to the upcoming season, including the play-in tournament with the 7-10 seeds being official. Suns will have 3 games against each team in the West (42 games) and 2 games against each team in the East (30 games).
Fred Katz: NBA announces dates for the upcoming season: • Dec. 11-19: Preseason • Dec. 22-March 4: First Half of reg season • March 5-10: All-Star break • March 11-16: Second Half of reg season • May 18-21: Play-In Tournament • May 22 – July 22: Playoffs
Sean Cunningham: Unique feature with the NBA schedule this season, as it will be released in two segments. The first half of the season schedule released around the start of training camp, while the second is released during the latter part of the first half portion of the schedule.
Where is training camp, and where are we playing this season? “I don’t know what to tell [my client]” said an agent for one Raptors player. “He’s pretty particular about his living arrangements and likes to have all that stuff figured out well in advance but right now the team isn’t saying anything and so we just have to wait. I’m going to hire a realtor in Tampa tomorrow just in case.”
Based on multiple sources it seems like an arrangement where the Raptors play their games in Tampa at Amalie Arena (home of the Tampa Bay Lightning) and train in the community nearby – the University of South Florida has hosted NBA teams for training camps in the past, as an example – is the leading option if the Raptors can’t get the necessary exemptions from quarantine requirements to travel freely across the border. But even late last week Fort Lauderdale and Nashville were mentioned as options to agents asking about where their clients might be headed.
Several agents representing Raptors players contacted by Sportsnet said they’ve received little to no insight from the team about where their clients may be headed in the short- or long-term. “It’s a little surprising,” said one. “You would think they would say, ‘We really want to be in Toronto but just in case, familiarize yourself with Tampa – or wherever – just in case.”
Shams Charania: As of now, the NBA is expecting 5-to-10 teams to host an amount of fans in their arenas to start the 2020-21 season, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Joe Vardon: NBA preseason games are expected to begin Dec. 11 at the earliest. It also looks like ‘team’ camps will start Dec. 5. The first few days are supposed to be individual workouts. And the league is expected to release at least a portion of its game schedule in two weeks.
The league knows when it will hold the draft (Wednesday), start free agency (Nov. 20), open camps (Dec. 1) and begin the regular season (Dec. 22). The salary cap and luxury-tax lines for the season have been set. Outside of that, little is known at this point about how things will work this season, which has led to frustration around the league. "I'd love to be able to tell you something, but I don't know anything," one Western Conference executive told ESPN. "I find out everything from the media."
Canada's deputy chief of public health says the Toronto Raptors have presented a good plan to play at home this coming NBA season, but concerns remain over enforcing strict health protocols and travel over the border with the United States.
Dr. Howard Njoo said the Raptors presented a plan with good health protocols and have learned from the NBA's "bubble" experiment, when the league finished the 2019-20 season at an isolated campus near Orlando, Fla. But Njoo said the NBA will not be using the hub city concept for the upcoming season, and that it would be "tough on everyone involved" to observe the same health measures over a months-long NBA season during which teams are not isolated together.
Chris Paul, the president of the National Basketball Players Association and guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, spoke Thursday at a Time100 event and said the league and the union are continuing to work through countless details that have to be settled before the new season begins with training camps next month and the start of games on Dec. 22.
“There’s still a lot of questions that have to be answered,” Paul said. “But we’re working on it. Nothing is perfect and everything that you see … we’re sort of learning everything on the fly. The only thing that’s in control right now is that virus. We’re working hard to try to make sure that not only our players are happy but our fans are happy.”
Marc Stein: Talks are ongoing, sources say, to grant players on two-way contracts more than 45 days in the NBA to make them far more available to their NBA teams With such a short offseason (for some teams) and more of a coronavirus threat, teams naturally want the added roster flexibility
It’s official: The NBA is coming back Dec. 22. The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved Tuesday the financial terms and other parameters that were negotiated between the league and its players. Those talks were completed late Monday night, when the league and National Basketball Players Association announced they are in agreement on a revised collective bargaining agreement for this coming season — setting the stage for a frenzied few weeks before games resume.
Sources also said that, in an attempt to ease the tax burdens of teams that had been planning on the salary cap and luxury tax continuing to steadily rise, the NBA will reduce the luxury tax bill for teams at the end of the 2021 season by the percentage amount that the league's basketball-related income (BRI) declines from initial projections.
Owners and players worked out a deal approved Monday night on when to start the season, its length, and other details. Teams are expected to be limited to 25 to 50 percent of suite capacity (driven by local market health safety rules), and there could be some fans sitting courtside (but further from the hardwood than normal), and some lower bowl seating, too, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The loss of five home games for every club translates into an average of $13.5 million per team in lost revenue from just fans, or $405 million collectively for all 30 clubs, according to new calculations from Chicago-based sports business intelligence firm Team Marketing Report.
Ian Begley: NBA says its Board of Governors unanimously approved the CBA changes previously agreed to by the league and the NBPA: pic.twitter.com/TpHpKXFAZf
Andy Larsen: Jazz just sent out this statement from team president Jim Olson. pic.twitter.com/j93VfDRJKT
Brandon Rahbar: Thunder will have fans in The Peake this season. No word yet on if they’ll have a coach in The Peake this season.
In case playing games at home isn’t possible to start the season, the Raptors have looked into several potential contingency locations – including Newark, Nashville and Tampa Bay, among others. However, they don’t have a locked and loaded Plan B. They believe it’s too early to give up on their very clear Plan A – hosting teams north of the border.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA and NBPA have reached agreement on an amended CBA, sources tell @Tim Bontemps and me. Free agency begins at 6 PM on Nov. 20, with signings allowed at 12:01 PM on Nov. 22.
Tim Bontemps: The salary cap ($109.1 million) and luxury tax ($132.7 million) will remain the same next season. In future seasons, the cap and tax will increase by a minimum of 3 percent — and a maximum of 10 percent, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: Besides the salary cap & luxury tax remaining the same this season as they were in 2019-20, there will be a reduction in the luxury tax bill for teams at the end of the season based off the percentage BRI decreased from initial projections during the 2020-21 season, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: The two sides have agreed to keep the typical 10 percent escrow from player salaries, with any further reductions being spread out across that season and the following two seasons. No single season will ever have a greater reduction than 20 percent, sources said.
League officials are confident that the reduced number of games and adjustments to reduce travel will aid teams. Such adjustments, although not finalized, would include more instances of teams playing the same opponent twice in the same city, as well as instances when teams would play more games against teams in nearby markets. (For example, more teams visiting Los Angeles would play the Lakers and Clippers on the same trip.) One other instance that could reduce travel is limiting one-game road trips.
League officials also noted that a shorter offseason is typical during years in which there is an Olympics or other international offseason, which is to say they believe the timeline players are facing now isn't unusual.
Multiple officials also said they expected the two teams that just played in the Finals to potentially rest their stars and others early on while treating the first month of games as a sort of extended training camp and preseason. The Lakers and Miami Heat would be the only teams to experience a season turnaround of just 71 days, whereas the traditional offseason since the 1983-84 season lasts 141 days for Finals franchises.
Tim Reynolds: Been asked twice privately today about whether media will be allowed in for NBA games when they restart in December, so I'll answer it openly it here: The answer is yes. Not sure why anyone thinks otherwise. As of now, we'll be in arenas. Somehow. Somewhere.
Health officials around the NBA have expressed concern for how to prepare players for a potential 72-game regular season with a training camp that starts on Dec. 1, less than a month away -- especially for the teams that haven't played games since March and the two conference champions. "It's going to be especially challenging to not only get ready to play Dec. 22 or whatever but to maintain that for a period of four or five months," said one head athletic trainer of a Western Conference team, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity. "This is going to be another period of unchartered territory. As unchartered as the [Orlando] bubble was [this summer], this is the bubble times three or four or five [because we're] trying to extend it to that period of time with a minimal ramp-up."
"I'd be more worried about travel, because we saw in the bubble, not having travel really helped guys recover," said one official intimately involved with player health. "So I don't know if it's actually the amount of games (72), but it's just the fact that you're getting to 2 a.m. in the morning and you're traveling now -- that becomes a bigger issue."
In terms of conditioning, several health officials said they were hopeful that teams would be able to return to game-shape in a three-week ramp-up, particularly if they followed the same blueprints as when they had a similar timeline before the Orlando bubble. But they also pointed out that they would have to build up a stronger base of conditioning and strength to last for the 72-game slate, especially and in order to stave off soft-tissue injuries that de-conditioned players tend to suffer, such as hamstring strains.
Jared Dudley: This is true for the teams that made it to the 2nd round and beyond.. Teams will have to be careful with the ramp up in training camp and the first 4/6 weeks of the season... NBA should look out for those teams schedule wise early in the yr.
The Toronto Raptors recently visited Nashville and are considering calling the city home next season because of Canadian travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a source familiar with the situation told The Tennessean. The source requested anonymity because there has been no public announcement.
A decision about where the Raptors will play could come within the next week or two, though the source said the preferred priority is keeping the team in Toronto. The Raptors began discussions with Bridgestone about three weeks ago. The arena is well equipped for basketball and hosts the SEC basketball tournament.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Among NBPA player reps on tonight’s call, there was some curiosity about starting free agency prior to Nov. 18 Draft, sources tell ESPN. For a few reasons, it isn’t possible under these circumstances. However, it is an idea that's had some support among teams in ordinary times.
Adrian Wojnarowski: First, there won't be finalized deal between NBA/NBPA until just prior to draft. Teams would be managing FA and draft simultaneously. Also, switching order starts new salary cap year earlier, offering some teams edge in draft-related trades that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
Tim Reynolds: To be clear, this vote tonight doesn't mean Opening Night is absolutely Dec. 22. But it does clearly suggest that the NBPA is on board, which obviously helps matters a great deal. Still have to work out those little things: Money, escrow, COVID protocols, etc.
The NBA will play a 72-game season, with training camps opening on Dec. 1, the regular season ending on May 16 and the Finals finishing no later than July 22, sources said. The NBA will play in markets, reduce their travel by 25 percent, and significantly reduce cross-country travel especially early in the season, sources said.
Several star players on Thursday night’s call, such as NBPA President Chris Paul and Rockets All-Star Russell Westbrook, stated that they want to view the official health and safety measures prior to fully committing to the season, sources said. Westbrook cited the importance of players’ health and safety upon any season opening, sources said.
The N.B.A.’s goal is to complete the 2020-21 season before the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled from July 23 to Aug. 8 in 2021. That would allow the league to avoid direct competition with the Olympics and set up the 2021-22 season to return to the N.B.A.’s usual October-through-June pattern. The plan is strongly preferred by the league’s primary media partners, Disney and Turner, following a summer and fall of dismal N.B.A. ratings in a crowded sports landscape, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Besides, some league officials would say, eight teams haven’t played since March and more than half the league was done playing by Sept. 1. “Good to see the light right now,” Hawks guard Trae Young, one of the players who hasn’t played since March, tweeted.
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.