National Basketball Players Association

NBPA Schedules Friday Call To Approve Return-To-Play Plan

1:49pm: Now that the Board of Governors has voted in favor of the league’s return-to-play plan, the players’ union is next up. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the NBPA’s team player representatives have a call set for Friday to approve the league’s plan for resuming the season.

11:03am: While the NBA’s Board of Governors is reportedly on the verge of approving Adam Silver‘s recommended plan for resuming the 2019/20 season, that’s just one important hurdle for the league to clear as it solidifies that plan.

The National Basketball Players Association will also need to formally approve any return-to-play plan, and Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets that the union has scheduled a Friday virtual meeting for its members to discuss the proposal.

Silver and the NBA have been working closely with NBPA president Chris Paul and the players’ union throughout the planning process, and the commissioner is believed to have already taken into account many of the players’ concerns. As such, I wouldn’t expect things to get contentious between the NBA and NBPA — it sounds like there’s a good chance the union will approve Silver’s proposal without significant pushback.

Still, players will want to receive assurances that the NBA is doing as much as it can to keep players healthy and safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A source tell Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link) that the league and the union are still working on a “lengthy” medical protocols document. It will be shared with teams once those discussions are completed, Reynolds adds.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) details, there will also be a number of other issues that the NBA and NBPA will need to collective bargain in order to formally move forward.

Besides navigating major financial issues like player salary reductions and the salary cap going forward, the two sides will have to move player option decision deadlines, salary guarantee dates, expiration dates for trade exceptions, and several other deadlines tied to free agency and the offseason, Marks writes. Additionally, decisions will have to be made on the possible expansion of rosters, lifting the current transaction moratorium, and the draft.

Board Of Governors Meeting Unlikely To Yield Final Plan

The NBA’s Board of Governors remote meeting with commissioner Adam Silver on Friday is not expected to result in finalized plans for the resumption of this season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

This speaks to the difficulties of getting everyone around the league to agree on a format and guidelines to restart the season. A wide range of options have been considered, varying from having all teams return to action to just the 16 clubs currently holding playoff spots.

Talks on incorporating the three most serious plans remain ongoing with the teams and the National Basketball Players Association, Wojnarowski adds, without specifying that trio of options.

Players Association executive director Michele Roberts has been conducting team-by-team conference calls with players this week, spelling out the various formats, as well as the financial implication of those options.

Orlando has emerged as the likely place where games will be conducted.

Latest On Potential Resumption Of NBA Season

The NBA has a number of important conference calls scheduled for this week as it continues to discuss the possible resumption of the 2019/20 season.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the league’s advisory/finance committee will have a call on Wednesday to talk about potential plans. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says a call with the league’s general managers will take place on Thursday. A Board of Governors call is scheduled for Friday, as previously reported.

According to Wojnarowski, the NBA may present a recommendation to its team owners on Friday, but that’s not guaranteed, since the league believes it still has some time to further deliberate. Sources tell ESPN that the possibility of games resuming in August – rather than July – remains a possibility for the NBA.

As the NBA continues to preach patience, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has started to push for a resolution to the league’s deliberations. Roberts, who plans to speak with players from all 30 teams over the next week to determine how they feel about the NBA’s reopening plans, tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that players overwhelmingly want to play, but need details on what it will look like.

“It’s time. It’s time,” Roberts said. “It’s been two and a half months of, ‘What if?’ My players need some level of certainty. I think everybody does.”

Roberts added that she doesn’t think the players’ union would necessarily need to conduct a formal vote on an NBA proposal when it arrives, since the NBPA has stayed in constant communication with the league, which has a pretty good sense of how its players are feeling.

“If we thought we needed a vote, we would. If we’re ratifying a CBA, we need a vote,” Roberts told Shelburne. “But our preferred method is talking to people or just having them talk to us. Then if we get a sense of what the sentiment is then we can move forward. We talk to our players and figure it out.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s plans:

  • There’s no strong consensus among NBA teams and executives about what the league’s return to play should look like, according to Wojnarowski. For instance, the idea of all 30 teams participating has “lost momentum,” but “still has a significant lobby.” Teams like the Hawks, Cavaliers, and Pistons are interested in resuming play, per Woj, who notes that some young, rebuilding squads are wary of taking the summer off and having a nine-month layoff before the start of next season.
  • On the other hand, there’s some ambivalence among lottery-bound teams about returning, particularly if they have no path to the postseason, Woj writes. Damian Lillard has publicly expressed this sentiment, as we relayed this morning. Commissioner Adam Silver is also prioritizing player safety and is wary of the possibility of subpar basketball if all 30 teams are brought back — the combination of the long layoff and stars on lottery teams sitting out could create a “bad television spectacle,” notes Woj.
  • Some agents are also hinting to GMs that their free-agent-to-be clients may not want to jeopardize their stock by playing poorly in a brief return this summer if there’s no path to the playoffs for their teams, according to ESPN’s report.
  • One starting player on a lottery team offered the following assessment, according to Woj: “If we don’t show up, we lose more money. We are already in the hole. And what message does it send to the public, the teams, the players that we are OK with 10-to-14 teams not playing. We already have a competition problem in the league. … My thing is: Play 30 teams for as many games as possible for the money, or go straight to the playoffs.”
  • According to O’Connor, Silver is interested in trying something different with this year’s playoffs because he wants to boost interest and appeal to casual fans at a time when all eyes will be on the NBA’s return. O’Connor lays out, in detail, the possibility of turning the first round of the postseason into a World Cup-esque “group stage,” which is something the NBA has discussed — we’ll have much more on that concept in a story coming later this afternoon.

Roberts Informs Players Of Latest Plans To Resume Season

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts is conducting team-by-team conference calls with players as momentum continues toward a resumption of play, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Roberts is providing details on formats to restart the season in Orlando, which has emerged as the likely place where games will be conducted. She is also going over the financial implications of those options and gathering feedback, Wojnarowski adds.

While there’s no word on how the players are reacting to the proposals, it does provide hope that players will soon convene to start training and practicing again. Several teams have opened their training facilities on a limited basis but thus far scrimmages and formal practices have not been permitted.

The NBA’s Board of Governors will conduct a conference call on Friday, which will include commissioner Adam Silver and team owners. It’s expected that by the end of the week, a course of action will be determined. Recent developments suggest that when play resumes, teams currently in the lottery will be excluded.

Search For New NBPA Executive Director On Hold

The National Basketball Players Association will delay its search for a new executive director until it has a better understanding of what’s going to happen with this season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Michele Roberts, who has led the union since 2014, won’t seek a contract extension when her current four-year term expires in 2022. The NBPA announced in March that it would begin its search for a successor, allowing plenty of time for a smooth transition.

The union has interviewed several candidates in recent weeks, including Pistons assistant general manager Pat Garrity, according to Haynes’ sources. Garrity served as treasurer for the union’s executive committee during his playing career. An executive search firm has been accepting nominations and is exploring a diverse set of applicants who have been in charge of other organizations.

There is no set timeline to find a replacement for Roberts, sources tell Haynes. She still has “unwavering support” from the players and will be counted on to guide the union through the coronavirus crisis, including negotiations that could affect how much the players earn in the next collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA will expire in 2024.

NBPA President Chris Paul: “We Want To Play Bad”

In the wake of a report earlier in the week suggesting that there’s “overwhelming” support among NBA players to try to resume the 2019/20 season, NBPA president Chris Paul appeared today on ESPN’s The Jump (video link) and essentially confirmed as much to Rachel Nichols.

Acknowledging that there are complicated issues to work through, and stressing that the health and safety of players should be the NBA’s top priority, Paul stated in no uncertain terms that players are itching to get back on the court.

“A lot of hard conversations that have to be made, a lot of hard decisions,” the Thunder guard said. “But with the team around us, I think ultimately we’ll get to where we want to. Obviously we want to play. Oh man, we want to play. We want to play bad. And I think that’s a consensus for the guys around the league. We want it to be, obviously, as safe as possible. But the biggest thing is we miss the game.”

[RELATED: LeBron, Giannis, CP3, Other Stars United In Desire To Resume Season]

Noting that the common refrain among players is that they want to play “when it’s safe,” Nichols asked Paul what exactly that might look like, since no coronavirus vaccine is expected until 2021 at the earliest. The 35-year-old admitted he’s still not sure exactly what the best way to minimize the risk this summer is.

“I don’t have the answers,” Paul said. “I don’t have all the answers. But I know that people are working tirelessly trying to figure it out.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote earlier this week that if the NBA resumes its season, the league won’t want to let one positive coronavirus test shut down play again. That means players will have to be comfortable with some number of positive tests, though it’s not clear how many would qualify as too many — that figures to be one key issue the NBA and NBPA will have to figure out in their negotiations.

Hiatus Notes: NBPA, Playoffs, Warriors, Fans

The National Basketball Players Association has begun to poll its members on whether or not they want to resume the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Woj explains, the NBPA’s regional representatives are among the union officials asking players a “yes or no” question about their desire to return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. The union has assured players that their individual responses will be kept confidential.

While it may seem like a given that players on contending teams will want to resume the season, there’s certainly no guarantee that players on all 30 clubs feel the same way. Even among players who have a chance to win a title in ’19/20, there could be differences of opinion based on potential safety and health concerns.

With Major League Baseball working on its own plan for a potential return to play, pitcher Sean Doolittle published a Twitter thread on Monday outlining concerns that he and other players would have as they consider suiting up for the season. Doolittle’s thread goes more in-depth and lays out more specific concerns than those we’ve heard publicly from basketball players, but I’d imagine there are many around the NBA who share some of his reservations.

For what it’s worth, the NBPA said in a statement to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that the union “is not engaging in and has not authorized any formal poll of its players.” As such, it sounds like the outreach being described by Wojnarowski is informal.

Here’s more on the coronavirus situation and its impact on the NBA:

  • A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that one scenario the NBA has discussed as it explores the resumption of the 2019/20 season would see the eighth seed in each conference up for grabs, with the current eighth through 12th seeds participating in a play-in tournament. As Berman explains, it would provide an incentive for a handful of teams who are currently out of the postseason picture, while not requiring the clubs at the very bottom of the standings to return and participate. Of course, it’s just one of many ideas the league has explored.
  • The Warriors still don’t expect they’ll be one of the teams playing games if and when the NBA resumes its season, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to be involved, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. According to Slater, one Warriors coach suggested that playing a handful of regular season games in the summer could essentially function as a “replacement summer league” for Golden State.
  • The NBA and NBPA are forming a “working group” and will have a call on Tuesday to discuss potential return-to-play scenarios, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania tweets that Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, and Dwight Powell will be among the players on the call.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Bill Shea explores how the pandemic will impact the way fans attend sporting events, once they’re allowed to reenter arenas and stadiums.

NBPA’s Roberts Expresses Concerns About ‘Bubble’ Concept

The possibility of resuming and completing the 2019/20 NBA season in a “bubble” location is widely viewed as the most viable path to playing games this summer. In theory, bringing the necessary players, staffers, and officials to a single location where they can be quarantined and tested for COVID-19 would be far less risky than having teams traveling to and from their home cities for games.

[RELATED: Latest On NBA’s Discussions To Resume Season]

However, while the idea of making Walt Disney World or Las Vegas that bubble in which to resume the NBA season has gained momentum in some corners, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the players’ union has some reservations.

As Roberts explains, via Shelburne, players would have to submit to some level of surveillance in order to enforce a quarantine for several weeks – or months – and to ensure the “bubble” is impenetrable. That idea is somewhat unsettling for Roberts and a number of players.

“Are we going to arm guards around the hotel?” Roberts said. “That sounds like incarceration to me.”

Of course, while the NBPA may have concerns about bubble enforcement being too “draconian,” as Shelburne writes, creating restrictions that are too lax could also be a problem. In that scenario, the league would risk having a player or staffer leave the bubble, contract the coronavirus, and put those inside the bubble at risk, potentially necessitating a shutdown.

The NBA continues to explore all potential options, so there’s no guarantee that the league will move forward with the bubble-location concept. If it does, there are concessions that could be made, such as allowing family members to join players in the bubble location. Still, Roberts tells Shelburne that regardless of what the NBA decides, the league and its players will have to prepare for some level of coronavirus-related risk.

“This is a world with the virus,” Roberts said. “And we have to figure out a way to work, play and live in a world with the virus. The questions have now evolved from, ‘Are we going to play again?’ to, ‘If we play, what are the risks going to look like?'”

As Roberts point out, even after the NBA makes a decision on what it feels is the safest possible path for resuming play, there may still be players who aren’t comfortable with those risks. She’s not sure yet how to address that issue.

“That is the million-dollar question,” Roberts told Shelburne. “I’ve got to confront that. It’s an issue employers everywhere are going to have to confront. Because I guarantee there’s going to be at least one player, if not many more than that, that are going to have genuine concerns about their safety. We have to figure out what the response is to that. It’s a tough one, and I don’t pretend that I have an answer to that one yet.

NBA Remains Optimistic About 2019/20 Season Even With Further Delay

The overwhelming majority of high-level executives remain encouraged and optimistic that the NBA will resume this season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

Commissioner Adam Silver has maintained a strong relationship with the National Basketball Players Association as all parties aim to return to basketball. Still, there are many hurdles to overcome in order to resume the season.

Silver previously said that no decision will be made before May 1. That doesn’t mean the commissioner will be making any announcements on Friday, though there’s a bit of restlessness within the league to come to a decision sooner than later, Woj notes.

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas is one of several suitors pitching a plan to host the league. Vegas could potentially also host the WNBA by providing three adjacent hotels for teams to stay at. Disney World in Orlando, Florida remains an option that is gaining momentum. Another proposal would see games played in “pods” across different regions.

Having fans in the stands is probably out of the question. Having cameramen may not be needed either, as sources tell Wojnarowski that the teams could rely on robotic cameras with new, innovative angles of the contests.

TV analysts could potentially call games from remote locations. The current discussions have included keeping teams at a 30-to-35 person head count, including players.

There is some support for the 2020/21 season to begin in December and run through July or August, as a way of resuming the 2019/20 season without dramatically hindering the league’s ability to complete the full ’20/21 calendar. There’s also the understanding that the further the NBA pushes this season back, the higher the chances of having fans in the stands at some point.

The NBA is still sorting out scenarios, but Silver may have to push forward with a decision without the backing of everyone. One GM told Woj that “it’s hard to lead by consensus in a crisis.” Silver may have to simply act in what he feels are the best interests of all parties, even if there are some that have different preferences.

Testing for the coronavirus is another issue. Silver has insisted that he couldn’t allow for the NBA to utilize all the available tests and – according to Woj – has instituted a mandate stating that if a player wasn’t showing symptoms, he shouldn’t be tested. Woj reports that the league would have to reverse course on that and that it would take approximately 15,000 tests to complete the season. While the NBA can afford to pay a private company to make those tests, it would be problematic for the league if they’re not widely available to the American public.

It’s nearing two months since the league suspended its season and the urgency to come to a solution continues to rise.

And-Ones: G League Union, Brown, Lin, Terry

G League players will begin deciding on Saturday whether to form a union, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The National Basketball Players Association is assisting in the formation of a G League-governed union, Wojnarowski continues.

By creating a union, the players could bargain with the NBA and G League on issues such as housing, salary and travel, Wojnarowski writes.  A majority of G League players must sign an electronic authorization card for passage.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Five-star recruit Greg Brown turned down a $400K offer to join the G League’s professional pathway program and opted to sign with Texas, Jeff Goodman of GoodmanHoops tweets. Brown, a 6’9” power forward, could have joined fellow top recruits Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd in the program but decided to spend next season with the Longhorns. “Just not rushing the process … the NBA is always going to be there,” Brown told Goodman.
  • Some foreign players are essentially stuck in China until the Chinese Basketball Association decides whether to resume its season, former NBA guard Jeremy Lin told USA Today’s Mark Medina.  Lin has been practicing regularly with the Beijing Ducks. The CBA was expected to restart in April but those plans were shelved due to continuing concerns about players contracting the novel coronavirus. “We’re basically just waiting until June to decide whether we play in July or not,” Lin said. “That’s the current situation. We’re kind of in limbo right now.”
  • Longtime NBA player Jason Terry has accepted an assistant coaching position with the University of Arizona, Jason Scheer of 247Sports reports. The news regarding Terry, who played for the Wildcats from 1995-99, won’t be official for several weeks since the school currently has a hiring freeze.