The teams that won’t be invited to Orlando for the resumption of the NBA season are discussing activities to make sure their players won’t be left without games for nine months, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. That plan could involve training camps, followed by a small summer league.
Wojnarowski lists seven teams — the Hawks, Hornets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Pistons, Timberwolves and Knicks — that are supporting a plan to hold joint practices as preparation for summer league games in August. Sources tell him that Detroit and Cleveland have talked about having practices together before a “mini-pod” of games.
Ideas presented by the teams, according to Woj’s sources, include two weeks of workouts in July, regional mini-camps in August with several days of combined practices and approximately three games on television, then organized team activities in mid-September.
Also, the teams left out of Orlando are seeking permission from the NBA to start next season’s training camp a week to 10 days ahead of everyone else. Those teams are concerned that the long layoff will affect the development of their younger players, not only due to the lack of games but because of the long separation from team facilities and the structured life in the NBA.
“Nine months is too long without organized basketball,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler said. “We just can’t risk that. I think the league has heard that loud and clear. We are pushing to remain competitive. That’s what our players want. We were desperate to have something that helps us to stay competitive.”
“Not playing for eight months puts us in a competitive disadvantage, but again, I think there are creative ways to do so,” adds new Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. “Collectively, I think these eight teams we’re getting now on calls and we have conversations of how we can develop our players and how we can have structure in place to get some practicing and possibly some scrimmaging in the offseason to catch up to the teams that are going to be playing.”
Wojnarowski points out that any games, camps or other activities would have to be negotiated by the league and the players union because they’re not part of the collective bargaining agreement. Sources tell ESPN that the league office has promised the teams it will work with them to find a solution.