Matt Barnes mentioned it a few days ago, and now Woj confirmed it. Many players still have reservations about entering the Orlando bubble and playing the rest of the season. According to Woj, it’s a significant number of players.
“There were 40 to 50 players on and off a conference call in the past 24 hours discussing a number of concerns centered on the restart in Orlando, but there has been no formal petitioning to the NBPA from any group wanting out of the 22-team resumption.”Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN
Not everyone’s reluctant for all the same reasons. Player’s concerns include health risks in connection to COVID-19, family situations, and social justice causes happening around the US. All those merge in the bubble rules that are yet to be determined.
As we mentioned before, the players agreed to a deal that wasn’t finalized. The NBA and NBPA hope to have a term sheet and a health and safety protocol guide available to teams and players this week. As those details are being ironed out, players are only now understanding what playing in the bubble will mean. Suddenly, the cost-benefit has changed.
Upon entering the bubble, players will be able to reunite with family members in the bubble in seven weeks. That’s seven weeks with no wives and girlfriends if you catch my drift. In case a player wants to leave the bubble to spend time with family, friends, or participate in a protest, they will be quarantined for 10 days after reentering the bubble.
Becoming aware of what kind of deal they signed up for without knowing all the details, players on non-contender teams are not so enthusiastic about playing in Orlando. That’s why the league made it known that players would be allowed to excuse themselves from participating without penalties but would not be paid for those games.
That means we could see players on non-contending teams, and even some on contending teams decide that with everything going on they’d rather stay with family or participate in the social change movement. In that case, teams will have the right to substitute that player as if he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Keeping in mind that safety is still the most critical factor in establishing rules for the return of the season, the NBA is expecting team personnel to submit personal medical histories to a panel of physicians who would review the individual risk of serious illness. This is in connection to Adam Silver talking about possibly banning people over a certain age to be present on the bench.
The decision would impact three head coaches – Gregg Popovich (71), Mike D’Antoni (69) and Alvin Gentry (65). After mentioning such possibility, Silver backtracked his statement a bit, but it seems the league is still trying to find a way to limit the risk of severe health consequences in the bubble.
Legal experts agree that such a decision would represent discrimination based on age and would be illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Not to mention they’d piss off some of the most influential and most respected coaches in the game.
Figuring out the location and the schedule was the easy part. Defining health and safety rules is the hard part. Every rule that increases safety disrupts the usual competitive process, and we are dealing with very competitive people here. Too many safety rules and protocols could make the entire thing pointless. Playing it fast and loose could lead to an outbreak.
I didn’t think Phil Jackson was right when he said the Spurs title in ’99 deserves an asterisk. That was a shortened season with full rosters. But this time around, we might get teams with substitutes because 15-20% of players decide not to show up, personal over 65 years old participating in a limited capacity, and a few players sidelined because they test positive.
Whoever wins will deserve the title of champion, but it will be under very special circumstances.