The NBA will place a strong emphasis on the mental health of players as they prepare to enter the campus in Orlando, writes Brett Martel of The Associated Press. Players are looking at a prolonged absence from their families as they head to Walt Disney World in a few days to begin training camps. They also face restrictions on where they are permitted to go, along with the knowledge that they’re in a state where COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising.
“This is one of the mental parts about it that guys have to adjust to, where someone like me, I go home and it’s where I kind of relax,” Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday said. “I try my best not to bring my work home with me so I can hang out with my wife, my dog, and my daughter and I can do things like that. … I think that’s going to be a little bit of a challenge, especially after like seven to 10 days.”
Holiday, whose wife is expecting their second child, is one of many players who will be separated from responsibilities at home. Gordon Hayward will consider leaving the Celtics when his fourth child arrives in September, and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will likely miss his daughter’s first birthday in August. Families won’t be permitted to join players in the Disney environment until the second round of the playoffs.
“Let’s not kid ourselves. This quarantine situation is going to be very difficult,” said Pelicans VP of basketball operations David Griffin. “… It’s going to be about who can keep themselves in the best frame of mind, quite frankly.”
There’s more relating to the restart:
- The NBA has announced its week-long schedule for scrimmages, with each team playing three times (Twitter link). Games will get underway July 22 with the Magic facing the Clippers and will continue through July 28. The league made an effort to schedule teams against opponents in the opposite conference or against an unlikely matchup in the first round of the playoffs, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
- The shutdown has affected the balance of power for the playoffs by allowing several players time to recover from injuries, notes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The Trail Blazers may have benefited the most, getting back big men Zach Collins, who had been sidelined since October 27 after having surgery for a dislocated left shoulder, and Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered fractures to the tibia and fibula in his left leg late last season. “They look great,” Damian Lillard said. “They make me feel way more confident going in, both of them. Like I forgot … I didn’t forget, but I forgot who they were. It’s been so long that I almost forgot.”
- Malika Andrews of ESPN offers a video look at what life has been like since entering the WDW campus.