The NBA as a league is not saying much about potentially relaunching its season. But its players? They’re talking — at least among themselves.
At least some of the league’s players received a group text Tuesday from representatives of the National Basketball Players Assn., asking how they felt about completing a season that has been suspended since the middle of March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several players confirmed they were contacted and asked to respond either “yes” or “no” to whether they were interested in resuming competition this season. They spoke to the Times on the condition they would not be identified by name; the players union poll was also confidential.
One player estimated about seven out of 10 players want to finish the season.
“But 30% is a big number,” the player added. “And what do you say to somebody who says, ‘You know what, I just don’t feel safe’? It’s hard to argue that. But there are reasons to argue that because I know the NBA would be one of the safest places to be at. That thing would be tight, clean, protocol, all that.”
Tuesday’s polling came a day after some of the NBA’s biggest stars discussed a potential restart during a teleconference. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, the president of the players’ union, organized the call, and the participants included Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.
The consensus of the group: They want to resume play, a person familiar with the discussion said, as long as they are convinced proper safety precautions have been taken.
During a conference call with players Friday, Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about the league’s position on several issues pertaining to playing again this season, and he reminded everyone that the situation remains fluid.
One scenario is that the league could hold games at “bubble sites” — contained areas with playing venues, hotels and other amenities — where the players and other people essential to the competition would be separated from the rest of society.
Las Vegas and Disney World in Orlando have been mentioned as potential locations. A week ago, MGM Resorts International reportedly pitched a plan in which the NBA would have access to a fully quarantined area — the size of about a city block — where the players could live while playing out the league schedule. On Tuesday, the company publicly unveiled a seven-point plan to reopen its Las Vegas casinos.
Some NBA executives have suggested that Western Conference teams could play in Las Vegas and Eastern Conference teams could play in Orlando. But that idea, or the advances made by various locations, apparently haven’t gained much momentum with the league.
“We have been approached by multiple properties regarding potential options for hosting NBA games, including MGM,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have not engaged in any substantive discussions.”