We’re winning back-to-back titles. That’s all there is to it.
The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Company about restarting the remainder of its season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday.
“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” Bass said. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”
It remains unclear whether the NBA will play the remainder of its regular season or proceed directly to the playoffs. But the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, with its three arenas and ample hotel accommodations, would allow the league to restart play while limiting outside exposures.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that the NBA has a board of governors call set for next Friday, which is expected to provide additional details for teams on a timetable and plan to proceed with the season. Teams are expecting the league to instruct them to start recalling players to their team’s markets around June 1.
With about half of the team’s 17-man roster out of Canada and facing a 14-day quarantine if they return to the country under current federal government restrictions, they could conceivably get back to Toronto this coming week, sit out the quarantine and still have more than a month of practice time before the Orlando restart.
It would not be optimal — and it’s a large ask for players to quarantine again — but it would give them familiar surroundings to work in. The team is already well acquainted with the strict health and safety conditions placed on anyone entering their practice facility, including temperature checks, thorough sterilization of the entire building after each workout and social distancing. Ramping them up to include the entire team, rather than the current one player at a time, wouldn’t be impossible.
It would be more amenable for the franchise to have all players under a familiar roof than, say, gathering beforehand in one American city. If the league were to announce that teams could open training camps on, say, June 20 and have everyone report to Orlando by the second week of July to begin play, it would give the Raptors time to get everyone back to Toronto, sit them down for as long as necessary and still meet the league’s timeline.
It wouldn’t be perfect, but no resolution to this suspended season will be close to perfect. Managing the imperfections is the goal.
The significance of Saturday’s announcement — at the start of the Memorial Day long weekend in the United States — is that the league has, for the first time, given a public target date for games. Still to be determined is the scope of the resumption of play, such as whether it would involved all 30 teams, just the 16 that were in playoff spots when the season was suspended, or some hybrid with a play-in process leading to a playoff tournament.
The Raptors has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and third-best overall, 46-18. If the league decides to go right into playoffs under the old seeding format, Toronto would face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
The following is a statement from NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass: pic.twitter.com/8gfK5iVXs8
— NBA (@NBA) May 23, 2020
Veteran sports journalist and Fox News contributor Jim Gray appeared on “America’s News HQ” Saturday and reacted to the news that the NBA was in talks with Disney to use the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Bay Lake, Fla., predicting that the basketball season will continue in July.
“The NBA Board of Governors is now examining what is going to be placed in front of them for a vote next Friday. And right now, the indications are that they will start up again, that they will commence training camp somewhere around June 15 to 20,” Gray told host Eric Shawn.
“Unknown right now if that’ll be in their indigenous cities or if they will go to the bubble, the bubble will be Orlando,” he continued. “Those negotiations are ongoing, and then they’ll start up games after the Fourth of July. Not certain yet if they’ll go into a round-robin to play into the playoffs or have maybe five regular-season games and then start the playoffs. All of this would commence in September, with the NBA finals at the end of the month.”
“I predict the NBA will be back and they will crown a champion this season,” Gray said, adding that it would be under the currently proposed scenario.
Gray laid out the elements that need to be worked out before play can resume, including issues with international players and the defending champions, the Toronto Raptors.
“You can’t wear a mask and play basketball. You couldn’t breathe. So that’s not going to be possible. But they’re putting all of these conditions and regulations into place,” Gray explained. “It is a logistical, huge, huge, big undertaking. The quarantine issue is also an issue as to how to keep all of them in the quarantine and in the bubble and then also have the hotel workers, the officials, the coaches and everybody who is necessary for an NBA game. Television personnel to televise it, to get this all up and running.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people 65 and older or anyone with a serious underlying medical condition “might be at higher risk for severe illness” from the coronavirus.
Dr. Preeti Malani, the chief health officer for the University of Michigan and a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases, said there was still much to learn about how the virus can affect anyone.
“My own personal advice would be to perhaps sit out and wait until you have more information,” said Malani, who has been advising the Big Ten Conference about the pandemic. “But that’s a hard thing to do when your job depends on it, whether you’re driving a bus or working in a restaurant or you’re a Major League Baseball player.”
As part of their plans to reopen, leagues are devising specific precautions for the most vulnerable returning employees. In a proposal on safety and testing procedures presented last week to its players’ union, M.L.B. suggested before any resumption of training each club’s doctor identify high-risk players, coaches and essential staff members — plus anyone who comes into regular contact with someone considered high risk.
Some of the suggestions to protect higher-risk players and essential staff members included separate spaces in dugouts and clubhouses; distinct or less crowded travel options; or shifting to remote work or modified hours.
Even then, if high-risk individuals believed that participating in the 2020 season would pose “an unreasonable risk” to their health, M.L.B.’s proposal would allow them to sit out — though the league did not take a position on whether players in that situation would continue to be paid.
“We would never force them or try to force them to come back to work,” M.L.B. Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week. “They can wait until they’re ready to come.”
In M.L.B., there are several players with Type 1 diabetes, a history of cancer treatment, colitis or heart conditions. So far, none have said publicly that they would sit out this season.
The NBA has sent a survey to its 30 general managers regarding competition formats for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, sources told The Athletic. This continues the NBA’s process of gathering information and input from its organizations prior to a restart amid the coronavirus pandemic.
GMs received the survey late Friday night, which included polling on whether the NBA should do a play-in tournament, the preferred number of teams to enter the playing site and the preferred number of scrimmages or regular-season games prior to the playoffs.
The feeling is that GMs across the NBA believe that this survey allows them to have input, but also believe the league’s ultimate decision-making power remains in the hands of commissioner Adam Silver and the Board of Governors, as well as the players. Further clarity is expected to come during the upcoming week.
There are still several questions remaining regarding format and testing on the playing site. The Athletic reported on Wednesday that the NBA was in serious talks with the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando to become the playing site.
According to multiple sources, the NBA, led by Silver, also held a conference call with GMs on Thursday in which several notable topics were discussed:
A two-step approach to the start of games: Two-week training camp in a team’s market, then a two-week quarantined training camp in the playing location. Players are resistant to the full nasal swab coronavirus test: As a result, the league is working on acquiring more comfortable testing via saliva or via the tip of the nose. Once in the bubble site, teams could share support services: This includes doctors and security personnel, to lessen the number of people involved.
That didn’t stop Rece Davis, Jay Bilas and Bill Simmons, who helmed ESPN’s NBA draft coverage that year, from taking Fraschilla’s sound byte and running with it, making several jokes and cementing “two years away from being two years away” in draft lore.
“I wasn’t trying to be disparaging,” Fraschilla said in an interview later that day. “What I meant was he has great long-term potential, but he still has a lot of work to do to play in a playoff game in the NBA.”
Caboclo admits he used Fraschila’s quote as motivation for a period, but ESPN’s international basketball guru wasn’t exactly wrong. Caboclo spent most of the next four years developing with Toronto’s D League affiliate, helping that squad win a D League title in ’17 but playing just 25 games for an ascending Raptors team over the course of his rookie contract.
“When I got on the Raptors, Coach [Dwane] Casey was playing 7 or 8 players a game. They weren’t looking to me very much,” Caboclo told Sports Illustrated over a recent Zoom call. “They said I was going to play every season, but I really didn’t play most of the time. I could see how it was going.”
He was traded to Sacramento in February 2018 for Malachi Richardson, played 10 unremarkable games with the Kings and was waived from a training-camp contract with Houston that fall before landing with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ G League affiliate.
Four years after Franschilla’s infamous proclamation, only once had Caboclo scored double-digit points in the NBA, in Toronto’s final game of the 2016-17 regular season.
Just as it seemed the NBA might give up on him, however, Caboclo ended up having a mini-breakout during the 2018-19 campaign. After Memphis signed him away from Rio Grande in January, Caboclo played in 34 games (19 starts) and averaged 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 36.9% from three-point range in 23.5 minutes per contest—all career-high marks.
Welcome to Raptors Over Everything, a Yahoo Sports Canada podcast covering the latest developments regarding the Toronto Raptors. Find the show on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher.
– Host William Lou speaks with Vivek Jacob of Complex Canada to discuss which player on the Raptors made the biggest jump this season.
– Fred VanVleet’s ascent to a starting-level guard
– Norman Powell finally putting it all together
– Pascal Siakam reinventing his game to become a No. 1 option
– OG Anunoby’s breakout season
– Appreciating Serge Ibaka’s efforts
Of these two point guards, and factoring in Irving, the Cavs would feasibly have trouble preventing penetration from Lowry, who is sturdy and always does a good job of setting up his teammates. I’d expect that to happen frequently against Price, and feasibly if switchouts happened against the likes of Daugherty. DeRozan would get his mid-range looks, too, where he’s lethal.
A pick-and-pop game between Lowry/DeRozan and Bosh (34.4 percent from three-point range with the Miami Heat, per Basketball Reference) could give the Cavaliers’ five above trouble, and with Bosh being a good big passer, LeBron and Nance would need to communicate through off-ball to prevent lobs/cuts to the rack from Carter.
Leonard in the mid-post/along the baseline could give the Cavs and James, if even in his athletic prime trouble, too, with Leonard’s long strides, polished handle and with Carter and Lowry as floor spacers, and to a degree, Bosh as well.
Nonetheless, with Nance (2.2 blocks and 0.9 steals per game for his career) and James (1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks lifetime) as terrific rotators, and with Irving at least being opportunistic in getting his hands in passing lanes, I still believe the Cavs would be able to load up on Carter and Leonard on crucial possessions, and be able to get some stops when they really need them.
In my humble opinion, though, the on the other end of the floor, the Cavs just have more on-ball creation with Irving, Price and James, and more spacing.
Price, who was lightning quick and a masterful pick-and-roll operator in instances with Daugherty and Nance, would be a handful for Lowry on the other in his own right.
In today’s NBA, too, Price I believe would be much more of a volume three-point shooter, and he could fill it up and put constant pressure on defenses at all three levels as a scorer, and likewise for Irving.