Coronavirus

Silver Acknowledges Next Season Unlikely To Start Until 2021

Echoing a sentiment expressed earlier this month by NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told CNN’s Bob Costas today that his “best guess” is that the league’s next season won’t begin until sometime in 2021 (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today).

The NBA previously informed its Board of Governors that December 25 would be the earliest possible start date for the 2020/21 season. Christmas Day typically features an impressive slate of games that showcase many of the league’s best teams, making it a logical option for opening day. However, with the coronavirus pandemic still complicating plans to get fans back into arenas, another delay seems likely.

As Medina relays, Silver also said on CNN today that the NBA’s goal is still to play a “standard” 82-game schedule next season, preferably in teams’ home arenas in front of fans. It remains to be seen whether that will be possible though.

Even if the NBA is able to play a full 82-game season, starting it in January would ensure it runs far beyond the league’s typical end date, complicating the NBA’s ability to send players and coaches to the Tokyo Olympics, which are set to begin on July 23. There’s also no guarantee that 2020/21’s opening night won’t be postponed until February or March, a possibility that has been recently voiced by reporters and players alike.

For now, the NBA is focused on safely completing its 2019/20 season, which will conclude within about three weeks.

NBA Sends Guidelines For Pre-Draft Process To Teams

With the 2020 NBA draft now scheduled to take place on November 18, the league has sent teams a series of revamped guidelines for the pre-draft process, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

With no in-person draft combine taking place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, 85 prospects will conduct in-market medical exams and testing and will shoot a 45-minute “Pro Day Video” between September 21 and October 16 as part of the first phase of a two-part process, Charania explains.

According to Charania (Twitter link), the plan is for prospects to travel by car to the nearest NBA team market to undergo medical, strength, and agility testing, as well as to take part in eight on-court shooting drills. No team personnel will be permitted at those sessions, as the league will oversee the process and will distribute the info and videos to teams.

Virtual interviews will continue to take place during this time, with teams getting the opportunity to talk to 20 prospects each for 30 minutes apiece, Charania adds.

Charania previously reported that after this first phase of the pre-draft process ends, the expectation is that in-person interviews will be permitted between mid-October and the draft as part of the second phase. Teams reportedly still won’t be able to conduct in-person workouts during that time though.

The annual draft combine had been scheduled to take place in Chicago in May. However, with the coronavirus pandemic still making large in-person gatherings impractical, the NBA has been working for much of the summer on an alternative format that will ensure teams still receive important medical and testing information for most of this year’s top prospects.

And-Ones: Gupta, Bubble, Webb, Agents, Draft

The Timberwolves have long believed that their executive VP Sachin Gupta is a strong candidate for the Kings‘ top front office position and have supported him as he explores the opportunity, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who says president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas has “spoken glowingly” to Sacramento about Gupta.

As the Kings narrow their search, Gupta appears to be gaining some momentum and is said to be one of three finalists for Sacramento’s top job. With that in mind, Krawczynski weighs some pros and cons for Gupta to consider if he’s offered the job. While the opportunity to run a front office doesn’t come along often, Krawczynski notes that the Kings haven’t been the league’s most stable franchise over the last 15 years, adding that Gupta is thriving so far in his role with the Timberwolves as Rosas’ right-hand man.

As we wait to see whether Gupta is offered Sacramento’s top front office job – and whether he accepts it – let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • The two teams that advance to the NBA Finals will be permitted to bring three additional staff members, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that those two clubs will also be allowed to bring 12 more guests of staffers into the Walt Disney World bubble.
  • Former NBA forward James Webb III has joined KAE Larisa in Greece for the coming season, the team announced on Instagram (hat tip to Sportando). A former Boise State standout, Webb appeared in 10 games for Brooklyn in 2017/18 and has also spent time under contract with Philadelphia.
  • James L. Edwards III of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at how agents and rookie recruiting have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has largely limited the ability of player reps to meet face-to-face with the prospects they’re looking to sign.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com has updated his big board for the 2020 NBA draft, with Anthony Edwards leading the way. Edwards’ case for the No. 1 spot centers on the likelihood that he’ll be able to eventually “anchor a team’s offense,” Woo writes.

NBA’s Bottom Eight Teams Gearing Up For Group Workouts

Monday, September 14 marks the first day of the three-week offseason workout window for the NBA’s bottom eight teams. The first phase of these de facto training camps will last for one week, through next Monday. During that time, activities will continue to be limited to individual workouts, as participants begin being tested daily for the coronavirus.

After one week, once participating players have returned multiple negative COVID-19 tests – or have been quarantined if they test positive – the second phase of the camps will take place in bubble-type environments. Group workouts, including practices and intra-squad scrimmages, will be permitted during the next two weeks as coronavirus testing continues.

The eight teams not invited to Orlando – the Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Bulls, and Hornets – won’t congregate at a single site like the top 22 teams did at Walt Disney World. Their “bubbles” will be created in their respective markets.

[RELATED: Eight Teams Left Out Of Restart To Conduct Workouts At Home Sites]

For instance, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes, the Bulls will stay at a downtown hotel and will be transported back and forth between there and the Advocate Center. The Hawks, meanwhile, are working to secure their players a hotel that has not yet opened to help avoid any outside contact, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The other clubs will make similar arrangements.

These workouts – both the individual sessions this week and the group activities beginning next week – are entirely voluntary. However, since these players have been unable to take part in organized basketball activities with teammates since March and are likely itching to get back on the court, there’s an expectation that attendance will be robust for most clubs.

Chris Kirschner of The Athletic reports, for example, that the Hawks anticipate all their core players – including Clint Capela – will take part in the camp. Jeff Teague is one of the only players not expected to participate, per Spencer, who notes that the veteran point guard is ticketed for free agency.

The Pistons are in a similar situation — James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reports that free-agent-to-be Langston Galloway isn’t expected to be in attendance, but most of the rest of the team’s players will participate.

There are some cases where players who could reach free agency in the coming months will take part in workouts. For instance, Marc Berman of The New York Post says that Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson will likely be in attendance for the Knicks. Portis has a pricey team option for 2020/21, while only $1MM of Gibson’s $9.45MM salary is guaranteed, so both vets could be let go by the team this fall.

Berman does caution that some veteran Knicks players intend to participate in individual workouts but won’t join the rest of the club in the “bubble.”

Teams that want to fill gaps on their roster and make sure they have enough players to hold intra-squad scrimmages will be able to invite players who suited up for their G League affiliates this past season. For example, Lindell Wigginton and Canyon Barry of the Iowa Wolves will join Minnesota for the team’s mini-camp at Mayo Clinic Square, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

With these offseason camps set to end on October 6 and the NBA Finals likely to wrap up shortly thereafter, the next time clubs meet for organized activities will presumably be for training camps at the start of the 2020/21 season.

NBA Aims For Fans In Arenas, Reduced Travel Next Season

The NBA is looking toward having fans in the stands and reduced travel next season rather than holding games in “bubble” or campus facilities, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

The amount of fans to be allowed in arenas is yet to be determined but the league would prefer in-market competition, Charania continues.

In recent weeks, the projected start date for next season has been pushed back.

Originally projected for the beginning of December, commissioner Adam Silver expressed skepticism for that target date last month. Silver told the league’s Board of Governors during a conference call on Thursday that the season won’t start earlier than Christmas, while NBPA executive director Michele Roberts suggested that opening night may not happen until the new year.

The league will announce next season’s structure with eight weeks‘ notice of the start date, Charania adds.

The NBA also had a call with the league’s 30 GMs on Friday.

The league still hopes to play a full 82-game regular season schedule but the dates for games and other events remain in flux.

Roberts Skeptical 2020/21 Season Will Start In December

The NBA reportedly informed its Board of Governors this week that the 2020/21 season won’t begin any earlier than Christmas Day. While starting next season on December 25 – typically one of the biggest days on the NBA’s calendar – might seem ideal, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts isn’t sure it will be possible.

“I do think we’ll have a season, but I don’t think it will begin in December,” Roberts told David Gelles of The New York Times.

There’s reportedly a consensus hope among the NBA league office and team owners that the ’20/21 season can tip off in late-December or at some point in January. However, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweeted on Thursday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the season doesn’t begin until February or even March. The league and the players’ union will both have to sign off on a revamped schedule.

One of the NBA’s top priorities for next season is getting fans back into arenas, since a significant chunk of the league’s revenues are tied to ticket sales and in-arena purchases. Roberts is hopeful that can happen, but acknowledged to Gelles that even if there are advances in coronavirus testing and treatment in the coming months, the idea of filling arenas next season is probably unrealistic.

“There will be a revenue drop,” Roberts said. “I do see a possibility of there being some reopening of some arenas. But if we’re lucky we will see 25 percent of the revenue that ordinarily comes through gate receipts, etc. That’s optimistic. Hopefully we can soften the blow, but I don’t see us packing arenas.”

Although Roberts is optimistic that some arenas will be able to accommodate fans – even if it happens later in the season and with a significantly reduced capacity – she suggested that some “bubble-like environment” may be necessary to start the season, given the state of the coronavirus pandemic and how successful the Walt Disney World bubble has been this summer.

“I suspect that we will have a hybrid environment, maybe with division bubbles that last for a certain number of months, and then we stop,” Roberts told Gelles. “But the concept of putting our players in a bubble for an entire season is unrealistic.”

Latest On NBA’s Investigation Into House, Rockets

4:19pm: Asked prior to Thursday night’s game about House’s status, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni confirmed that he expects to be without the forward (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle). D’Antoni is unsure whether House will be available later in the series.

The investigation is ongoing,” he said. “They’ll come out with their ruling and we’ll go from there.”


12:46pm: After word broke on Wednesday night that the NBA is investigating a potential violation of campus protocols by Rockets forward Danuel House, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Thursday morning that the probe is related to House allegedly allowing a female COVID-19 testing official into his hotel room. Now, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic have provided more details on the investigation.

According to Charania and Amick, a female staffer – who is not believed to be a league employee – entered the Rockets’ team hotel on Monday night and left in the early hours of Tuesday morning. When the woman was questioned by league security, she claimed to have contact with Tyson Chandler and another player (not House), sources tell The Athletic.

The entire Rockets’ team entered a quarantine period on Tuesday due to possible coronavirus exposure, but the league’s investigation soon focused on Chandler and House, according to Charania and Amick. Those two players weren’t permitted to play in Game 3 vs. the Lakers on Tuesday night.

Although the woman didn’t implicate House and he has “vehemently denied” engaging in any improper conduct, the NBA says it has circumstantial evidence implicating House, per The Athletic’s report. The league’s investigation cleared Chandler on Wednesday and shifted its focus toward House, who has been in quarantine while the probe continues.

The Rockets and the NBPA have been supporting House, but Charania and Amick suggest that the team and the union are “virtually powerless” in the process, since the NBA is running the show on medical and protocol issues. Sources tell The Athletic that there has been some frustration about the lack of communication between the league’s investigative team and the Rockets.

Today’s latest injury report from the NBA continued to list House as out for Game 4 on Thursday night, so unless the league’s investigation clears him within the next few hours, it sounds as if he’ll likely miss a second consecutive game.

And-Ones: Bubble, COVID-19, B. Williams, Singh

The NBA sent out a memo today informing teams that staffers will be permitted to bring guests into the Orlando bubble for the Conference Finals, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As Wojnarowski explains, those guests will have to quarantine for seven days before being cleared to move around within the NBA’s bubble. Additionally, each club will be allowed to host a maximum of 10 total staff guests.

The NBA is adjusting its protocols just days after Nuggets head coach Michael Malone vocally expressed his displeasure with the league’s decision not to allow coaches to bring family members onto the Disney World campus.

While Malone was the most outspoken about the policy, a number of other coaches have publicly and privately expressed a similar sentiment. Of course, with his Nuggets trailing 2-1 in the second round and at risk of being eliminated before the Conference Finals, Malone may not end up benefiting from the league’s updated protocols.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • NBA teams also received a memo from the league this week alerting medical staffs to be aware of an increased risk of blood clotting associated with the coronavirus, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. While no players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the bubble, a number of players previously contracted the virus.
  • Arizona guard Brandon Williams, who averaged 11.4 PPG as a freshman in 2018/19 before missing his sophomore season due to a knee issue, will leave the program to pursue professional opportunities, the school confirmed in a press release. It’s too late for Williams to declare for this year’s draft, but he’ll forgo his remaining college eligibility.
  • Princepal Singh, a 6’10” forward from India and a graduate of the NBA Academy, spoke to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype about his decision to play for the NBA G League Ignite select team and his desire to “inspire the youth of India.”
  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Mike Schmitz identifies some NBA players who have had performed well during the summer restart and explores what impact those performances may have on prospects from the 2020 draft class. For instance, Schmitz suggests that Luguentz Dort‘s impressive defense on James Harden in the first round should make scouts feel more comfortable about a defense-first wing like Isaac Okoro.

Restart Notes: Malone, NBA Statement, James, Bubble Ball

Nuggets coach Michael Malone created a controversy on Friday when he criticized the NBA for not allowing coaches’ families to enter the Orlando campus. Malone said the league should be ashamed for the prohibition, according to The Denver Post’s Mike Singer.

“I miss my family, and I think I speak for me, I speak for my coaches and probably all the coaches down here,” Malone said. “Sixty days and not having access and not being granted the privilege to have my family come here, to me, is criminal in nature.”

Players were allowed to bring in a limited number of family members and guests after the opening round of the playoffs.

  • In response to Malone’s criticism, as Sam Amick from The Athletic relays (Twitter link), the NBA issued a statement that read in part: “We are hoping to add additional family members for other participants beginning with the Conference Finals.” Coaches Association president Rick Carlisle then issued a statement, relayed by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link), indicating that “NBCA discussions with the league office are ongoing. We will continue to work with the NBA as partners to evaluate the viability of coaches’ families coming to Orlando as more teams exit.”
  • LeBron James paid homage to Players Association president Chris Paul for his role in the restart and leadership in Orlando: “Obviously we’re here right now in this bubble and the restart of our season is a large part to him and to everyone that had anything to do with the PA,” James said. “But CP was very instrumental to this thing getting restarted. I commend him on that, his leadership, his candid words since he’s been here, both on and off the floor. Just another inspiring person, man. Not only from a basketball perspective.” (hat tip to The Orange County Register’s Kyle Goon)
  • Offensive efficiency has increased during the restart and The Athletic’s Seth Partnow explores the potential reasons for the upswing this summer.

Southeast Notes: Bamba, Okeke, Fultz, Hield, Howard

Magic center Mohamed Bamba, who missed the first-round series against Milwaukee, has not experienced any serious health issues after leaving the Orlando campus during the seeding round, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel reports. Bamba departed in mid-August for a comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation after he struggled from the the virus he contracted in June.

“The doctors have ruled out anything serious but it will take some time to clear his system. That’ll probably be measured in months, not weeks,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Weltman said rookie forward Chuma Okeke is in the “late stage of his rehab and development” and the Magic expect him to contribute next season, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando drafted Okeke with the 16th overall pick last year even though he was recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the NCAA Tournament.
  • Coach Steve Clifford expressed satisfaction with Markelle Fultz‘s development this season, Robbins relays in the same story. “He’s obviously a very talented guy. … I’m beyond ecstatic with the way that he played,” Clifford said. Fultz averaged 12.1 PPG and 5.1 APG during the regular season.
  • Buddy Hield and Spencer Dinwiddie are among the trade candidates that the Hawks might pursue to pair with Trae Young, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Kirschner and Peachtree Hoops’ Andrew Kelly take an in-depth look at what type of trades Atlanta might explore this offseason using the team’s cap room.
  • The Wizards have recently interviewed draft prospects Markus Howard of Marquette and Robert Woodard of Mississippi State, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. They are potential targets with the Wizards’ second-rounder at No. 37 overall.