After a virtual meeting today, the National Basketball Players Association has approved the NBA’s 22-team return-to-play format, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). Charania reports (via Twitter) that all 28 team player representatives on the call approved the plan.
As Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter), the two sides still need to work out a number of details related to the resumption of the season, with many aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement expected to be revisited and renegotiated. For instance, just because the NBPA approved the tentative plan today, that doesn’t mean the two sides are locking in the NBA’s target date of December 1 as the start of the 2020/21 season.
“The Board of Player Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has approved further negotiations with the NBA on a 22-team return to play scenario to restart the 2019/20 NBA season,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Various details remain to be negotiated and the acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”
Still, now that the Board of Governors and the players’ union have both signed off on the league’s restart plan, two crucial hurdles have been cleared. The two sides intend to work together toward resuming play on July 31 at Walt Disney World.
One important aspect of the return-to-play plan that will require further discussion is the long list of healthy and safety protocols the NBA plans to implement to help individuals in Orlando avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Sources tell Charania (Twitter link) that the NBPA informed players today that coronavirus testing will happen every night after everyone reports to Orlando. According to Charania, a quarantine period of at least seven days will be required if a player tests positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), players have been told that the goal is to have a maximum of 1,600 people within the NBA’s Disney bubble at a given time. Players’ families are expected to be allowed after the first round of the playoffs, with up to three family members at a time permitted, Woj adds. Those family members will need to quarantine for seven days upon arriving, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.
Here are a few more details that were discussed on today’s call, per Charania:
- The plan is to have teams play two or three exhibition games before the eight “seeding games” begin.
- The NBA and NBPA are still discussing how to handle the no-fans environment. Using crowd noise via NBA 2K audio is one option.
- Players won’t be blood-tested (ie. for anti-drug policy violations) in Orlando.
- Players are expected to once again receive their full pay checks this summer after accepting a 25% reduction as of May 15.
Interestingly, Charania also reports (via Twitter) that NBPA leadership stressed to players that staying within the campus environment during play is mandatory in order to ensure player safety. We’ve heard that the league would permit players to leave that “bubble,” but it sounds like the NBPA is strongly discouraging that idea in order to keep the playing environment as uncompromised as possible.