NBA Rumor: Bubble Next Season?

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NBA likely to push back start of 2020-21 season

Silver, speaking ahead of the NBA draft lottery, said the top goal for the league is playing games back in teams’ respective home markets. Doing that by Dec. 1, however, just may not be possible. “Our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas,” Silver said on ESPN. “My sense is in working with the Players’ Association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would do.”

Four bubbles next season?

Meanwhile, there is talk of as many as four bubbles next season, according to sources. Given the league’s current success housing 22 teams at the Wide World of Sports Complex, a return to Disney is a given, as is using Las Vegas, the runner-up to Orlando this year. There just isn’t another city that far west (any city in California, right now, is a non-starter, given the explosion of COVID cases there) with the hotel space and big-event experience of Vegas. One source says New York and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are two other potential bubble cities; New York not only has what would be an otherwise empty Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and Barclays Center in Brooklyn as venues, but also Basketball City, the longtime midtown Manhattan venue by the Hudson with numerous courts available, for potential practices.

Yet, if most or all of next season indeed winds up being played in another bubble, missing 41 home dates will cause every team significant financial pain. But given the current patchwork of remedies nationwide as states take different positions on how best to combat the coronavirus, the chance that enough cities will be confident enough to re-open for the kind of high-volume, close-proximity crowds at NBA games is minute. “I’m not so sure there’s going to be one answer for everywhere,” another team executive said. …”I’ve got to think that there’s a whole lot of things that have got to be open and running before they’re going to be worried about professional sports. …We’ve got to figure out how to get people into schools. We’ve got to figure out how to get people back to work and into offices. We’re nowhere near on those kinds of things, much less getting people back into sporting events.”

The league continues to get high marks for making the environment for everyone safe. But there aren’t enough amenities to counter the strain the extended stays away from home are putting on families and personal relationships, several people said. And that kind of emotional state isn’t optimal – especially as teams, referees and league personnel remain in such proximity to one another, sharing common areas – just as the most emotional time of the year is about to begin.

Not bad, it turns out. “In some ways I didn’t think it would be as forgiving as it has been,” Roberts told SI in an extended interview. There were the expected complaints. Players didn’t enjoy the 48-hour hard quarantine they received upon arrival. “I think had it been longer than that,” Roberts said, “then it may have been more problematic.” Those buzzing Roberts tell her how much they miss friends, family. “The good news is that’s pretty much 99% of what I hear in terms of complaints,” Roberts said. “And at the end of the day, the guys have said, ‘I got to go to work. I’m at work, I’m doing my job.’”

Michele Roberts: Can't rule out NBA bubble in 2021

No fans, no home-court advantage, but safety was the main priority when deciding to resume the 2019-20 season that had been on hold since March 11. The NBA has achieved that so far, but would the league be willing to start next season in a bubble environment? “I don’t think you can discount nor will I say we have discounted the possibility of continuing this protocol for the next season,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts in an Friday interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio.

Suns general manager James Jones told The Arizona Republic he “trust(s) the judgement and decision of the NBA/NBPA’s leadership” when asked about the possibility of playing next season in a bubble. “They’ve done such a good job with giving us protocols and ways to stay safe,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “Nobody’s gotten the virus. So it’s one that I think every sport can duplicate. As it relates to doing it again, I’d be all for it, but I think we got to figure out a way to involve our families.”

Is the Orlando bubble a possible destination for the eight teams left out of the restart to run offseason training camps once the first batch of 22 teams are eliminated? The NBPA has no interest in that idea, sources said. It’s a non-starter. The inevitable solution for the eight teams left out of Orlando: The NBA and NBPA agreeing upon voluntary workouts in the team facilities, sources said. The NBPA won’t agree to mandatory reporting for players on the eight teams outside of the restart but will eventually allow it on a voluntary level, sources said. Several of the teams are frustrated and angry over how far they feel they’re falling behind the teams in the bubble, and are aggressively voicing that to the league office.

Regional bubbles next season?

We’re a ways off from next season, but league sources have told me that the NBA is looking at options that include creating regional bubbles, should the COVID-19 pandemic still prevent normal business in the fall. Teams would report to a bubble for short stints—around a month—which would be followed by 1-2 weeks off. Ideally, the NBA would like to play an 82-game schedule that starts in December. A December start would allow the league to end the season in late June, putting the NBA back on a normal schedule and, importantly, not compete with the Olympics next summer. The players union is expected to take issue with that, preferring teams, particularly those making deep playoff runs, have more time off.

Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA’s priority remains to get fans into arenas next season. Regional pods for extended periods are among brainstorms, but preference would be that those are finite in length, sources said. For example: A month or two inside, a month out. Early in planning; everything’s on table.

Ingles believes the main challenge of extending the bubble for a full season, which would be a minimum of six months, would be including loved ones. “Guys aren’t going without their families,” he said. “We were talking about this the other night my significant others would be my family. But for one of my teammates it might be his brother or his mum, so finding the balance of how many people and where you do that to have enough accommodation for 30 teams, including 40 staff and players in our group and that was a really small number that the NBA were trying to keep tight so we weren’t having too many people. If you are there all year you have to bring extra people.”

In a call with the players back in May, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said money generated from live game attendance could account for up to 40 percent of the league’s annual revenue. Roberts said the two sides are “beginning some very high-level discussions with respect to what the potential issues are,” and said the laborious process that was necessary for the NBA and the union to hash out how to put the bubble together, and then actually go through the process of doing so, “took just about all of the oxygen out of the room.”
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September 20, 2020 | 12:22 pm EDT Update
So, I asked, how did Lakers coach Frank Vogel see it after he had watched the film? “We were definitely the aggressors in the game, and the box score I have right here has us with 28 (fouls),” Vogel said. “We got called for 28 fouls. They got called for 26.” It was a savvy stance to take, albeit oversimplified. So as Vogel left his media session to rejoin his team, I admitted to him that I hadn’t noticed that the final fouls tally was in the Nuggets’ favor. “I do my research,” he said with a grin.
Storyline: Officiating Complaints
When Orange County Register Lakers beat writer Kyle Goon asked Vogel about James’ shot selection this season, it was refreshing to hear a candid and fascinating response from the Lakers coach rather than something more political. James, whose midrange jumper has been so effective for so many years now, has focused more on shots at the rim and beyond the arc this season, in part because of the message being sent by the coaching staff. “It is definitely a coaching point,” Vogel said. “You know, we want to have an analytics-based shot selection mindset with our team. … It’s the free throw No. 1; layup dunk No. 2; corner 3, No. 3; arc 3, No. 4, and midrange is the fifth priority shot we could have. But I will not ever tell my team not to take midrange shots if they are open shots. The No. 1 analytic for me is ‘Are you open?’ or ‘Are you guarded?’ That applies to shots at the rim, applies to 3-point line and applies to midrange. I’ll take an open shot over any zone that you can put up the shot from, and we want to work for open shots.”
“We’re not trying to intimidate anyone,” said Rondo, who had seven points, nine assists and a plus-13 in nearly 22 minutes. “We’re just playing basketball. With the guys we have — Dwight (and his) physical ability, he’s just playing the game. No one’s out there trying to bully people. We’re playing to our strengths. “I’ve been telling (Howard) the last two weeks (that) he’s going to be our X-factor in the series. I’m very happy that he got an opportunity to come out and play and display his talent, and show how much we need him. Like I said, I told him in the Houston series, things don’t go his way sometimes but in a championship run you need all 15 guys, and that’s what we displayed (in Game 1). Coach being able to go deep in the bench, and use guys that we haven’t used last series, so it’s a testament to the management, the way we’re able to be flexible — go small, go big, and (in Game 1) Dwight Howard, especially, was great for us.”
“This has been something I’ve never dealt with. There’s a lot going on for me individually, (and) for my family. And then the rehab, just with (the coronavirus in society) and the bubble and trying to do the best that I can to not have to quarantine for many days coming back here and having to quarantine — basically taking five days off from treatment and rehab and then trying to get myself ready to play in the Eastern Conference Finals, that’s something that’s a daunting task for sure. So for me … I’ve tried to do the best I can each day with it, and not put pressure on myself and just try to help us win basketball games, honestly.”
“To be honest, I didn’t get much sleep the last 48 hours,” Brown, who clashed with Smart in the passionate locker room scene, said when asked about the recovery process for their team. “I was so antsy to get back and play basketball. I don’t think the last two games exemplify what this team is about. So, I couldn’t wait to come out and be the best version of myself and try to add to a win. And I’m glad to be a part of this team and this organization and I’m proud of how we responded. … At the end of the day, we’re a family. We represent this organization. We represent each other and we won’t ever let anything come in between that. We’ve got a tremendous opportunity and we understand that and nothing’s going to stop us from trying to maximize that.”
Back in February, Us Weekly published a story about how Vanessa had been leaning on her mother, Sofia Laine, as she grieved the loss of Kobe and hers and Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Giannia. Laine had moved in with Vanessa at one point, but she now says her daughter has kicked her out of the Bryant home. Laine sat down for an interview with Univision that is set to air in its entirety on Monday. A preview clip, which is only in Spanish, was shared on social media. According to Erika Marie of Hot New Hip Hop, a teary-eyed Laine claims in the interview that her daughter has kicked her out of the Bryant home and demanded that she return a car Vanessa had given to her.
September 20, 2020 | 9:24 am EDT Update