NBA Rumor: Delete Eight Bubble

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One idea floated on a recent owners call, as first reported by The Athletic and confirmed by USA TODAY Sports, is bringing the Forgotten Eight to the Disney bubble near Orlando once teams are eliminated. So far, that environment has been a success. No player has tested positive for COVID-19 for three consecutive weeks, and the league’s plan to minimize cases is working. That would require additional testing and resources, but it would in theory assuage health and safety concerns and satisfy those teams wishing to get time on the court. It’s just an idea, and three team executives told USA TODAY Sports they are skeptical of that becoming reality.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down the latest scuttlebut: Well, the latest is, you really got only one shared goal between these eight teams and that is to get some kind of formal group activities authorized by the league and the players association. How that plays out and the form that takes, there are different goals. There are some teams that wouldn’t mind doing a bubble. There are other teams that would rather stay in their own practice facilities and not travel. There are other teams that want to do regional scrimmages against another team. And complicating this is that Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players association, is on record as saying: Unless there are the exact same safety protocols going on in Orlando for the second bubble, it’s a non-starter for her.

The league’s attention mostly has been in Orlando, obviously, and that was a signficant financial undertaking. So you’d also have to factor in that, what kind of financial undertaking would they commit to these eight teams. It did look like there was some positive momentum for, not a bubble, but for each team to be able to hold some sort of offseason training sessions, group sessions in their own facilities, like OTAs in the NFL. And I don’t think that’s dead, but there’s certainly not as much optimism as there was maybe a week, ten days ago for that. I mean, it’s fluid, and there’s nothing definitive yet, but you may be staring at that dreaded eight month window between formal group activities for these eight teams.

There has been some talk about a potential second bubble for the teams that didn’t get invited to Orlando. Are you focused solely on getting healthy for next season, or would you consider playing in that second bubble if it comes to fruition? Blake Griffin: To be honest, I haven’t really heard any truth to that, so I hadn’t even given that a thought. I don’t know that that’s probably the best route just because, you know, the NBA had to spend a large amount of money to put this bubble together in Orlando, and that’s for the playoffs to continue to happen and finish this season and give people some sort of entertainment, so I don’t know how real that information was about the Chicago bubble. But I’m healthy and I’ve been working out and going hard, so if that ever does come up we’ll revisit that topic then, but for now I don’t know how much truth there is to that.

No second bubble for eight eliminated teams?

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well. “There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

While the league’s Disney World venture has gone smoothly thus far, with the league having twice reported that all of the players present have tested negative for COVID-19 while the games go on, sources say the National Basketball Players Association remains concerned about the safety concerns that would come with creating another location for the other eight teams to compete (Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Minnesota, Cleveland, Golden State). The NBPA, sources say, has been open to the idea of having in-market bubbles for individual team minicamps. So far, those eight teams have only been able to do 1-on-0 workouts in the facility with up to two coaches at a time.

The frustration from most of these teams is that the ones not in Orlando now face a competitive disadvantage going forward when it comes to player and culture development, sources have said. Those teams, it’s clear, will continue pushing for ways to re-engage their coaches and players to ensure they are not taking steps backward ahead of the 2020-21 season. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts shared her view of the matter during a conference call with reporters in late June, making it clear that she would expect the same level of safety for players in a second bubble as exists in Orlando.

This would allow the Charlotte Hornets and seven other teams not at Disney’s campus dramatically more activity than currently allowed. The proposal under discussion — which has not yet been approved by the league or the players union — would include: ▪ A week of practice at individual teams’ home facilities, starting the second week of August. ▪ Possibly two weeks of group workouts hosted by two teams not in the restart. Those cities have not yet been finalized. Teams traveling would likely be contingent on the players union approving teams scrimmaging each other.
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Warriors to work out Avery Bradley

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