Participating in a roundtable discussion at the White House on Monday with fellow restaurant executives and industry leaders, Tilman Fertitta was put on the spot by President Donald Trump, who asked the Rockets owner where things stand with the NBA. As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon of ESPN details, Fertitta expressed confidence that the league will be able to resume and complete its season.
“I think what they’re doing is waiting to see what happens in certain states and if we’re going to be able to play,” Fertitta said. “Making sure the virus continues to go in the right direction in the next few weeks. And I think that if things are going in the way that it’s going, I think the NBA, the commissioner Adam Silver, who has done an unbelievable job through this, and the 30 owners will make the decision to try to start the season up again.
“… I think that we would play some games just to get it going again and create interest and then go right into the playoffs,” the Rockets’ owner added, when asked by Trump whether the NBA would move directly to the postseason. “But I think it’ll be great for America. We’re all missing sports and everybody wants to see these great NBA teams.”
Meanwhile, like Fertitta, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is optimistic that the likelihood of an NBA return this summer is trending in the right direction, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.
“We have this saying right now with our team called ‘Win The Wait,’ and so we’re trying to win the wait meaning we believe there’s going to be a season, we really do,” Rivers told Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson during a Monday interview. “And if there is we cannot let this disruption be the reason that we don’t win. We want to be fully ready if and when we get the start button.”
Although the confidence expressed by Fertitta and Rivers is a good sign, the NBA is still working through potential plans as it determines the best way to resume its 2019/20 campaign. Appearing this morning on The Dan Patrick Show (video link), Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN shed a little more light on the league’s latest discussions, suggesting that – in terms of potential host cities – Orlando has gained traction.
“I think the question’s going to be, are they going to put all the teams in one place? Are they going to perhaps have teams moving among two sites, based on an Eastern/Western Conference scenario?” Woj said. “The one thing Adam Silver has told the players and the owners that he doesn’t want are teams flying around. You’re not going to see what baseball’s proposing, which is teams moving around, playing in home stadiums.
“The NBA’s focused on a one-site, no-fans (plan). They’re going to deal with trying to get back into arenas again for the start of next season.”
While the league’s goal is to play the rest of the season in one or two centralized locations, one possible scenario would see teams conducting de facto training camps at their own practice facilities before traveling to one of those “bubble” locations, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).
So far, 17 of the NBA’s 30 teams are known to have reopened their respective practice facilities, though group workouts and practices remain prohibited.