Storyline: NBA Schedule

190 rumors in this storyline

The NBA is closing in on signing off on a second “bubble” in Chicago for the eight teams that were not invited to play in Florida, enabling them to participate in a mini-training camp and subsequent games against other clubs with a target date of September, sources told ESPN on Thursday. The details are still being hammered out, and teams continue to push for an alternative plan that would enable them to hold mini-camps within their local markets and to explore the idea of establishing regional sites where teams could scrimmage against each other.

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Mark Cuban pushing to start the season on Christmas Day

Cuban: “I hope for the NBA and I hope not for other sports, for obvious reasons. I’ve always been a proponent of starting on Christmas Day because that’s when we go to broadcast television. Whether it’s Christmas Day or possibly a little earlier, because part of the thought process is hopefully there’s a vaccine by then, and I’m one of these people that’s very confident that there will be. The science geek in me just reading it thinks that it’s highly likely that there will be. Now the question is the distribution of it and the more time we buy for distribution of the vaccine, the more likely when we start next season there’s an opportunity to not just have some fans but more fans than we otherwise might expect.”

Is there anything you would have changed about the playoff format or the starting date for the 2021-22 NBA season? Mark Cuban: There is no perfect format. We could tweak it here or there, but I think we ended up with a solution that will definitely work. In terms of the starting day for next season, my preference is Christmas Day, but am OK with any time after Thanksgiving. With companies and schools changing their holiday schedule to effectively combine Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks as a means of reducing risk, I’m hopeful the NBA can use that time to not only start the season, but also to start to introduce fans to a home schedule. Again, it’s purely a hope.

NBPA considers starting next season on December 1 unlikely

– The NBPA told players 2020-21 season starting on Dec. 1 is “unlikely” and plans to negotiate the date. – The NBPA informed players today that NBA/NBPA will conduct coronavirus testing every night, likely mouth swabs/light nasal swabs and not the full invasive nasal swab. Minimum seven days quarantine for a player if positive. – There could be crowd noise via NBA 2K video game sounds, but the NBA and NBPA is still discussing creative opportunities – Players are expected to return to full paychecks this summer, after taking a 25 percent reduction in May – There is a proposed 35-person travel party limit – There is an expected three-hour practice window for teams, with two courts and weight rooms in the convention center

There will be up to seven games per day played over roughly three weeks during the August regular season, which the NBA has branded “seeding games,” and it is likely there will be weekday afternoon playoff games during the the first round. Sources say the league will use three different facilities at first to stage games — The Arena, HP Field House and Visa Athletic Center, all at the Wide World of Sports Complex. As things progress, it will be reduced to two sites and then one.

“We can start playing in August, for that matter, because we don’t have all the travel restrictions,” Cuban said. “Everyone [will be] in probably one location. You don’t have to fly across the country, give everybody one day off. You can play multiple games in one day. You can compress it in ways we never were able to before, so I don’t think there’s a drop-dead date. … Starting by Aug. 1 in order to make it, so that gives us plenty of time.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is the latest NBA figure to promote the idea of permanently moving the start of the season to Christmas Day. “I’ve been saying that for 15 years,” Cuban said on the “Pardon My Take” podcast. “And the reason I’ve been getting shot down is, there’s this thing called HUT (households using televisions). And during the summer, that drops. … In the past, that was a big deal. So you wanted to end (the NBA season) by June so you could maximize the people watching TV. “But … TV’s changed.”

Mark Cuban believes the NBA can still salvage its 2019-20 season, despite it being suspended for two months and counting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Dallas Mavericks owner pointed to Dec. 25 as the start date for next season and then said you just have to work backward for a potential timeline to resume this season. Most teams, Cuban said, would not be playing an extended schedule as there’s a limited number of teams that would advance through the playoffs.

Simply put, Cuban just wants the sport to return in some fashion. He believes the level of play will be just as good, if not better, than what NBA fans saw coming out of the 2011 lockout. “Anything we show is going to be better than what we have right now,” Cuban said. “It’ll be good enough, right? We just want our sports. We just want to root for the Mavs, the Cowboys, the Stars, the Rangers, etc. If it’s not perfect, I don’t think anybody is going to mind.”

Charania: The NBA regular season is approximately 80 percent complete, depending upon where each team is in its schedule. From what I’m told, the league was in line to generate nearly $9 billion in basketball-related income, and owners and team presidents estimate that canceling the rest of the season would result in $1-to-2 billion in losses. The NBA and its players agreed to reduce paychecks by 25 percent starting May 15, essentially serving as a reserve for if and when play resumes, and players can receive that amount back.

Silver has repeatedly told teams he remains determined for the season to culminate with a champion. Between now and then, if the league office had any doubts that decision-making would become painstaking and polarizing during these times, this past weekend reminded them of the scrutiny that awaits every decision. The process of simply reopening practice facilities for players to do brief, individual workouts turned into something of a back-and-forth between league and front-office executives.

For a time, Las Vegas was the most popular idea for a proposed resumption of the NBA season: a bubble city of teams grinding out the playoffs within a quarantine of connected casino hotels and arenas. As time has passed, those talking with NBA commissioner Adam Silver find him still needing to be convinced Vegas is the best idea. For some of the league’s most influential veteran star players, that’s a reassuring notion because they’re concerned about some younger teammates struggling with the patience required to properly fortify a bubble environment in Vegas.

NBA starting the season around Christmas?

According to people close to league discussions, the NBA’s planning committee, which features several team general managers, has been pitching the idea to start games around Christmas for quite some time. The idea stems from a variety of factors, including coaches and players complaining about too many games in a week, to lack of practice time, early ratings being impacted, and perhaps one of the most significant issues plaguing the NBA before the coronavirus pandemic: load management and rest.

The NBA has already discussed an in-season tournament if play can resume this summer, which Silver said requires more dialogue, but also added would be implemented at some point. One NBA executive said this is the opportunity to explore the concept for at least for one year, in what could be spectator-free arenas. The executive, who spoke to CNBC on condition of autonomy as the individual is not authorized to talk about the matter, suggested opening a new season via a tournament on Christmas.

According to one top-ranking league official, the NBA has explored concepts of concluding final games in Las Vegas, as the tournament would emulate famous overseas basketball cups like the Copa del Rey in Spain. In Las Vegas, the NBA already has built-in business relationships, and could recover some of the lost revenue via sponsorships and gambling dollars associated with a tournament, the executive said, adding a proposed sponsorship slogan for the one-and-done format. “The NBA Cup, where every game is a Game 7,” the individual said.

It’s been over a month since the NBA suspended its season because of the coronavirus threat. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the hard part about the NBA returning will be trying to have fans in attendance. “It’s no question that’s the hard part. Because when are people going to feel confident enough to go to big gatherings? It’s going to be difficult to start off with 25 people let alone 15,000,” Cuban said in an interview with TMZ. “We’re just going to have to defer to the scientists, the doctors who will tell us what we need to do to get the arenas in shape to be able to accept people and for those people to have confidence.

The N.B.A. has repeatedly made it clear that it needs the approval of government and public health officials to resume operations. If you wish to maintain an optimistic tone amid the mounting pessimism in league circles and imagine such approval could be granted as early as June 1, that would still mean nearly three full months of inactivity for N.B.A. players. David Griffin, the executive vice president of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans, neatly summed up the challenges posed by such a lengthy shutdown during a recent conference call with reporters. “I think there would be a pretty unanimous sentiment that the longer we’re out,” Griffin said, “the longer we’re going to need.”

The N.B.A. has repeatedly made it clear that it needs the approval of government and public health officials to resume operations. If you wish to maintain an optimistic tone amid the mounting pessimism in league circles and imagine such approval could be granted as early as June 1, that would still mean nearly three full months of inactivity for N.B.A. players. David Griffin, the executive vice president of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans, neatly summed up the challenges posed by such a lengthy shutdown during a recent conference call with reporters. “I think there would be a pretty unanimous sentiment that the longer we’re out,” Griffin said, “the longer we’re going to need.”

Speaking Monday night on an Instagram Live session with Cayleigh Griffin and television partner AT&T SportsNet Southwest, Morey said: People aren’t going to be back in NBA shape. My guess — and this is up to the commissioner and the plans they’re putting together — is we’re going to have to shorten any plans to a tighter window than people are going to be comfortable with. The reality is, it’s not going to make that big of a difference. You want to get the quality [of play] high enough, but because everyone’s going to be dealing the same ramp up [in activity], there won’t be any relative advantage developed between the teams. Maybe even the first couple of games aren’t perfect, but both teams are going to be dealing with the same thing. … We’re all going to have to do our best in a probably shortened time period.

Speaking Monday night on an Instagram Live session with Cayleigh Griffin and television partner AT&T SportsNet Southwest, Morey said: People aren’t going to be back in NBA shape. My guess — and this is up to the commissioner and the plans they’re putting together — is we’re going to have to shorten any plans to a tighter window than people are going to be comfortable with. The reality is, it’s not going to make that big of a difference. You want to get the quality [of play] high enough, but because everyone’s going to be dealing the same ramp up [in activity], there won’t be any relative advantage developed between the teams. Maybe even the first couple of games aren’t perfect, but both teams are going to be dealing with the same thing. … We’re all going to have to do our best in a probably shortened time period.

As COVID-19, the coronavirus, spreads across the U.S., the NBA is preparing for the possibility of playing a summer schedule for the first time in league history. There is resounding ownership support for finding a way to finish the season, NBA officials told SI.com, even if that means re-starting the season in late June, even if that pushes the Finals into September. Some estimates have the NBA losing as much as $1 billion in a lost season, an eye popping number team owners desperately want to bring down.

“The only reason we haven’t played games after June 12 in the past is because our TV partners [see] HUT’s—homes using television—drop significantly,” Cuban said in a recent interview. “Well the TV landscape has changed dramatically over the last three-four years.” The conventional thinking: the weather gets warmer, fewer people watch television, ratings plummet. And they do. But some television executives see any ratings drop reflecting the lack of effort often put into summer programming as the timing of it. Broadcast networks pull top rated scripted shows off the air in the spring and bring them back in the fall.

The league is on hold with the rest of the world because of the coronavirus. There is nothing close to a set return date for the NBA — and any time there is a suspension in play, an unplanned round of negotiations typically results. “The NBA and the union are going to have to negotiate when they come back,” ESPN insider Brian Windhorst said on his podcast. “They’re going to have to open the collective bargaining agreement for simple things like changing the league year.”

As one league insider cautioned me, we shouldn’t assume next year’s schedule will necessarily change as a result of this year. While all of us in the peanut gallery are jonesing to push the schedule back, that requires a massive undertaking from the league side at a time when it is already in the midst of another massive undertaking. The NBA could also do everything I outlined in this story and still kick off 2020-21 more or less on time this fall. If that’s the case, however, then that Labor Day timeframe becomes even more of a hard deadline for this season to end.

Team executives seem to be warming to the idea of a December start, though their evolving opinions may be due to necessity, depending on how long the wait is until games are played. It could be a good time to experiment, though. As mentioned earlier, installing a postseason play-in tournament to determine the playoffs was discussed. The playoffs could change formats to reduce the number of games in a series, which Rockets general manager Daryl Morey proposed in the past. It would be a way for the league to test-drive nontraditional ideas without a long-term commitment.

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin recently proposed starting and ending the NBA season two months than they currently do in order to avoid footballl. Due to the NBA suspending the 19-20 season because of COVID-19, the league may be forced to adopt “I even had one team president, who I respect, who I think has some level of influence in the league said to me the other day that he never really liked that Koonin idea, but the more he thinks about it now, the more it does intrigue him,” said Adrian Wojnarowski.

Meanwhile, the NBA Finals would take place sometime in August rather than June, with the draft and free agency to come after that. That would again allow the NBA to dominate more of the summer months, when it is only going up against Major League Baseball, instead of fighting with football for territory. “A big piece is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to enhance ratings,” Koonin said. “Sometimes, moving away from competition is a great way to grow ratings.”

More important than Koonin proposing the change, though, is that Evan Wasch, the NBA’s senior vice president of strategy and analytics, said the league was open to such an idea — as well as others that could reshape how the NBA’s regular season plays out, as well as when it does. “We certainly have no issue with reconsidering the calendar,” Wasch said. “To Steve’s point, you have to think about the other stakeholders. They need to get more comfortable with the Finals in August, rather than June, where traditionally the household viewership is a lot lower.”

Mark Cuban: Put aside the 78 games because that’s a different issue and it’s not a big deal one way or the other. You can make up four games in terms of a play-in or whatever. I’m not necessarily opposed to 78 games, I just have to see the specifics. But when you feel like you need to have an in-season tournament because you feel it’s needed to make the start of a season or the early-grind-it-out parts of a season interesting, you’re effectively saying that without this, the games aren’t interesting. To me, that’s never a good thing in business. You never, ever want to say, “Well, my product’s not as good this time of year as it is in that time of year, so we’re going to spice things up.” That’s not the case and that’s never good business in my mind.

The most recent version of the in-season tournament included pool play, with designated tournament games built into each team’s regular schedule. The top-eight teams based on the results of pool play would then meet in a single-elimination tournament. Under the most recent proposal, all games — including pool play — would fall between Christmas and the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Spruell said. The league has considered using a 40-minute format for games in the elimination portion of the tournament, Spruell said. Given the outcome of the All-Star Game on Sunday, the league will also discuss the possibility of using an Elam Ending-style target score in those elimination games, Spruell said.
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July 15, 2020 | 1:36 pm EDT Update
Sources inside the Pelicans’ front office maintain that they view Ingram as a critical building block going forward. Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin told reporters on June 30 that he believes Ingram and Lonzo Ball, who is extension-eligible after the season, both want to continue in New Orleans.
Storyline: Brandon Ingram Free Agency
When participating in rallies and marches, Isiah Thomas recalled a time that he had a weapon pointed at him for the first time in his life: “My mom didn’t have babysitters. We grew up extremely poor,” Thomas told Thurl Bailey. “So we participated in all the marches. We participated in all the rallies. The first time I had a weapon pointed at me was by the United States government. When they shut down Chicago and the National Guard came in, never forget, they rolled up off the Eisenhower Expressway and I lived 3340 West Congress, and a tank rode up off the Eisenhower Expressway and the barrel of the tank rolled around and pointed directly at our house. Because they were shutting down the city. They were shutting down the west side of Chicago.”
Now, Thomas is excited about the future. “What we all are truly fighting for is just to be Americans and not be labeled by a color. Whether you classify as white, black, brown,” Thomas stated. “The cast system that we’re living up under is a color coded cast system. Right now, we have people from all different colors coming out onto the street and marching and saying, ‘we need to end this systemic color coded casted racism that we are living under, in this country’ and I think it’s exciting right now.”
July 15, 2020 | 1:30 pm EDT Update

League adding antibody tests to COVID-19 protocol

Amid concerns among teams over the potential for false positives impacting players returning from COVID-19, the NBA on Wednesday updated its protocols to add an antibody test for players and staff who have recovered from the virus, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. Because people who have recovered from COVID-19 can still have dead virus cells in their system be detected by tests, the league has now included the antibody test as part of its protocol for players and staff returning from the virus, according to the memo, obtained by ESPN.
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As the league has resumed play inside the league’s bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, teams have worried about the potential for prominent players to have false positive tests — particularly during the postseason, sources told ESPN. On a recent call with the league’s general managers, the question of what would happen if a false positive test takes place on a game day was raised to the league, sources said. At least one player who contracted COVID-19, recovered and was subsequently cleared to travel to Orlando had registered several negative tests in Orlando and cleared quarantine upon arrival but later tested positive, sources said.
It’s like a Summer League… It’s like a big ass AAU tournament down here. It’s like an upscale AAU tournament down here. But, it’s good because everybody – all the players is all on one campus. Even though we can’t go to other hotels at the moment, but we making it due. The first couple of days was tough because we had to quarantine… But now you practicing, you playing, you’re going through the day-to-day grind. — Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony on what it’s like in the Orlando Bubble
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Anthony mentioned that having a four-month layoff due to the global pandemic actually has him feeling a certain way: Your body feels fresh. Your body and your mind feel fresh. Other than that everything else is – it is what it is… As long as you keep working and doing what you’re doing, just sharpening your craft, you’ve got to keep your mind and your body right at the end of the day. — Carmelo Anthony
July 15, 2020 | 1:12 pm EDT Update
The policy will protect the NBA from interruptions like weather-related or structural problems that prevent buildings from operating. It will also cover incidents involving bodily injuries and property damage resulting from services and operations, CNBC has learned. But the policy will not cover the cost of expenses associated with the bubble, which amount to more than $150 million. The estimated to cost for a league-approved individual to attend the bubble is $60,000, according to a person will knowledge of the NBA’s planning.
July 15, 2020 | 1:05 pm EDT Update
July 15, 2020 | 1:00 pm EDT Update

Storyline: Orlando Bubble
July 15, 2020 | 12:48 pm EDT Update
July 15, 2020 | 11:54 am EDT Update
Head coach Monty Williams elaborated on where Oubre’s currently at. “There’s so many benchmarks for a guy like that coming off of a surgery,” he said Tuesday. “He’s totally healed, his body looks great but there’s still some things he would have to be comfortable doing. We would have to be comfortable based on our medical staff giving him the OK. But he looks great.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
During a typical regular season, P.J. Tucker spends his off days checking out sneaker shops, no matter what city he is in. When the NBA season was put on hold, Tucker’s off-day shopping trips came to a halt. But that didn’t stop his shopping sprees. “I’ve bought more shoes during the coronavirus than I ever have,” Tucker said with a laugh. “Probably in my entire life.” Tucker, known around the NBA as the league’s most prolific sneakerhead, spent countless hours during the time when team facilities were shut down checking eBay to add to his collection.
As he was packing for the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Tucker was uncertain if he’d be able to receive packages while in the bubble, so he went “all-in,” just in case, bringing more than 80 pairs with him for what could end up being a three-month stay should the Rockets reach the NBA Finals. “I’m bringing the big boy out for Orlando, I’m not gonna lie,” he said as he was packing, with a laugh. “The big 24 [pair] case joint. I’m bringing that. I got to! Everything needs to come Day One.”
July 15, 2020 | 10:15 am EDT Update