In a wide-ranging phone conversation with Tim Bontemps of ESPN today, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts discussed a variety of topics pertaining to the league’s immediate future. Key on everyone’s mind recently has been the success thus far of the 2019/20 season’s Orlando campus, wherein no NBA players or travel team personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 after clearing their quarantines for the past three weeks.
Roberts acknowledged that another possible campus set-up, with NBA players stationed at a single, isolated site with frequent testing, seems like a realistic possibility for the 2020/21 NBA season, given the current state of the novel coronavirus in the US.
“If tomorrow looks like today, I don’t know how we say we can do it differently,” Roberts said. “So it may be that, if the bubble is the way to play, then that is likely gonna be the way we play next season, if things remain as they are.”
The 2020/21 NBA season is tentatively slated to tip off on December 1, though the NBPA hasn’t approved that start date.
Roberts went on to commend the safety precautions implemented within the Disney World campus setup.
“The medical facilities and the physicians on campus, I’m not worried about anyone getting sick and not being able to get absolutely immediate health care,” she said. “I am completely satisfied that we’ve come up with the right protocol.”
The NBA and the NBPA are bracing for a significant loss in league revenue, stemming from the loss of fan attendance for much or all of the 2020/21 season. Both sides will negotiate handling the fallout of these losses and are “beginning some very high-level discussions with respect to what the potential issues are,” Roberts told Bontemps.
Roberts also noted that she does not intend to use the revenue conversations between the NBA and NBPA as a moment to opt out of the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement for a total renegotiation ahead of the December 15, 2022 deadline for doing so.
“That’s not something that has been addressed and, I would venture to say, is not going to happen.”