Home NBA When will NBA return? A Q&A on where, what will it look like, how to watch – NBCSports.com
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When will NBA return? A Q&A on where, what will it look like, how to watch – NBCSports.com

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A restart of this NBA season — albeit in a very different form — has gained momentum in recent weeks, and it seems more and more likely games will be back this summer, prompting the obvious question of when will NBA return? Those games will be played without fans in the building, and there could be other format changes, but the league wants to complete a season that legitimately crowns a champion.

There are countless things still undecided about a return, but as plans take shape this is where they stand today, according to sources and other reports. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman put together this update.

When will NBA return?

NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly plans to decide in 2-4 weeks.
—Dan Feldman

Do NBA players support the return? NBA owners?

Yes. An “overwhelming” majority of players support a return to play this season — if steps are in place to make things safe. A number of the game’s biggest stars — LeBron James, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrookestablished a united front after a conference call saying they wanted to return to play this season, forming a powerful lobby that will influence other players.

Another player reportedly put the split at 70% wanting to play this season as long as things are safe, 30% do not. That is an overwhelming majority that want to come back, but also a sizeable minority with concerns. Players want to know what the risks are with a return, and some will want more safety guaranteed than others.

As for the owners, there is no public polling, but the buzz around the league is they unanimously want this season to play out. Financially, that should be expected. They and their organizations are taking a big hit in the pocketbook and they want to restart games, make their television partners happy, and regain momentum for the league. More importantly, they want next season — even if it starts around Christmas — to be played in full, all 82 games.

The owners of some teams well out of the playoffs have questioned if they should shoulder the expense of sending teams to a “bubble” location for a handful of meaningless regular season games. Still, they will do so for the good of the game if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver asks them to.
—Kurt Helin

When would NBA games resume? How often could teams play?

The NBA is still mapping out potential timelines, but most sources around the league expect games — whether they be regular season, part of a play-in tournament, or playoff games — to begin in July. Those games would be preceded by a roughly three-week “training camp” for players to get back in shape and readjust to playing. The timing of all of that will depend on both the coronavirus in America and the availability of rapid testing.

How often teams would play also is not fully decided, but most around the league expect a condensed schedule with playoff games every other day for teams (and a rotation so games are being played and broadcast every day). If there are regular season games we possibly will see some back-to-back games for teams as the league pushes to get as many games in a limited time as possible.
—Kurt Helin

How can I watch?

The playoff games, once they tip-off, will be broadcast on ESPN and TNT, as per usual. Teams’ regional sports networks likely would be able to show any regular season games played as well as the first round of the playoffs, as they traditionally would. The schedule for the games (if they are played) will be announced at a later date.

The also NBA wants to use this opportunity to explore new camera angles and greater use of technology — possibly pushing their 3-D game experience or other new technology — to help draw viewers in since the energy will be different without fans in the building.
—Kurt Helin

Where would NBA games be played?

Most likely inside a “bubble” or “bubbles” in an MGM hotel in Las Vegas (the Mandalay Bay) and/or at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. There has been momentum toward two bubbles of late, with possibly the West teams in Las Vegas and the East in Orlando. (Other cities are still in consideration, but are seen as long shots.)

The NBA has coalesced around the concept of the bubble — Adam Silver described it as a “campus setting” to owners — where players, coaches, trainers, staff, and everyone would live, eat, practice, and play games in one location. The idea would be to test everyone before they come into the bubble, and regularly inside the facility, with the hope of keeping the virus out — and quickly quarantined and controlled if it gets in. It’s not only people with the teams or broadcast crews who would be tested but also people with the hotel and facility (janitorial staff, chefs, security, etc.).

Players would be able to leave the “bubble” but would be tested upon re-entry. Players’ families and significant others also are expected to be allowed in the bubble, they would face the same testing requirements.
—Kurt Helin

What would be the safety protocols? Would there be enough testing?

It’s all about the testing. The NBA’s return this season hinges on accurate, widely available rapid testing. There will be other layers of protection inside the bubble facilities as well, but testing is the lynchpin. Anyone entering the bubble would be tested, and Silver said he wants daily testing for players and team staff in the facility. There also would be extensive testing of everyone (hotel staff, for example) involved. In addition to testing, there would be temperature checks (which can catch people with symptoms, even if not everyone shows them), increased sterilization of surfaces, and other steps.

One concern for the league: That they can get the estimated 15,000 tests they need for this without being a drain on tests needed in other parts of the nation where there are outbreaks. The league faced a PR backlash back in March when entire teams were tested (including players without symptoms) while in those same states  citizens with symptoms could not get a test. The NBA learned its lesson on that front.
—Kurt Helin

What happens if a player tests positive?

That player would instantly be quarantined, and there would be contact tracing and testing of everyone that player was in contact within recent days. That team may not play games for a couple of days, depending on the situation.

Play would not stop. Silver emphasized this to both players and owners in recent calls — the league cannot shut down again after one positive test if it is going to get through this season and finish the playoffs. A player who tests positive would be treated almost like a player with a sprained ankle or other injury — he would not be able to play, but games would continue (except in this case said player would not be in street clothes on the bench, instead he would be quarantined away from the other players). Injuries are part of the luck of the playoffs, a positive test would be treated the same way by the league.

Ultimately, to finish the season, the NBA and its players face the same question the rest of society does right now: What is an acceptable level of risk?
—Kurt Helin

What format would the season, playoffs take?

This is one of the big questions still hanging over a restart of the league, and the NBA is mapping out a range of scenarios. One of the key questions in answering this question becomes how deep into the fall the league is willing to go. Is Labor Day weekend the cut off? Is it mid-September? October?

There are three options for the NBA restart (each follows a three-to-four-week training camp to get players back in shape). First would be to bring back all 30 NBA teams, play at least some of the postponed regular season games (if not all), then jump into a playoffs with seven games in each round. This is the NBA’s preferred option financially, but it also would run the longest into the fall, and the more teams brought into a bubble the harder it is to maintain.

Second would be to have a play-in tournament with the final playoff seeds up for grabs. This likely would involve seeds seven, eight, nine, and 10 (and maybe 11 and 12). This compromise has gotten pushback from some teams (what’s the point of earning a playoff spot in the regular season?), plus this would be something to broadcast not covered in the current television agreement, forcing that to be renegotiated at a time there are a lot of other priorities. The final option is to go straight into the playoffs, using the standings as they were when play was suspended. This is the cleanest and most straightforward option, however, it also does not help as the regional networks hit their broadcast goals and it would mean some teams would stop play in March and likely not retake the court until December.
—Kurt Helin

How late could the season go?

The latest word: October. But we’re not that far removed from Labor Day being considered the deadline. This seemingly keeps getting pushed back and could get pushed back again.

The NBA was approaching its most lucrative time of the year – the playoffs – when the shutdown occurred. It’s just logical to make every reasonable effort to play the postseason, even if it disrupts a future regular season.

Prolonging the current season also buys more time for advances that allow fans into arenas next season. Silver said the league draws about 40% of its revenue from ticket sales and other game-day sources.
—Dan Feldman

When will the next season start?

The NBA is open to delaying the start of next season. December gets mentioned most often, because that’d fit with finishing this season then having a shortened offseason.

But there’s a degree of hopefulness with that timeline. Coronavirus creates uncertainty in how quickly the NBA can restart this season, let alone finish it.

Even if the NBA cancels the rest of this season, there are no guarantees about when it’d be safe to start next season amid a pandemic. Unlike this season, next season would definitely include all 30 teams and possibly travel between cities – more points of concern.
—Dan Feldman

When will the NBA draft and free agency take place?

The league is reportedly set on holding the draft after the current season (whether canceled or completed). That’d allow teams to put current players into trades involving draft picks. A delay would also allow a chance for team workouts and a (potentially virtual) combine. Right now, the pre-draft process is out of whack. The NCAA indefinitely deferring its withdrawal deadline eases the NBA’s ability to postpone the draft.

If holding the draft before the season finishes is untenable, there’s absolutely no way to hold free agency until then. For the playoffs to be credible, players must have contractual allegiance to only their current team.
—Dan Feldman

What are the financial ramifications (including to the salary cap) of the stopped season?

Simply, the NBA is losing significant revenue while on hiatus. That hurts both owners and players, as the Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for each side to split revenue approximately 50-50.

So far, owners have borne the brunt of the losses. Players will soon feel the pain through paycheck deductions. A lower salary cap could follow.

A goal was preventing a significant decline in the salary cap (which is $109.14 million and was projected to be $115 million next season). The salary cap is typically calculated based on revenue. Yet, owners and players could agree to artificially boost the salary cap while withholding a higher portion of salary from all players. That’d protect certain classes of players – 2020 first-round picks, 2020 free agents, players who signed max extensions last year (Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, Pascal Siakam and maybe Jaylen Brown) – from getting particularly disadvantaged. It’d also smooth (pun intended) the transition back into normal conditions whenever that happens.
—Dan Feldman

ASSOCIATED PRESS — Jasmine Jordan is getting an intimate look into the psyche of her heralded father, Michael, just like the rest of the world. The 27-year-old wasn’t born when her dad won the first two of his six championships with the Chicago Bulls, so like many watching “The Last Dance,” there are some things she’s learning for the first time.

“I’m definitely texting him nonstop. I think there hasn’t been an episode, a Sunday where I haven’t been like, ‘This happened—let me know your thoughts,’” says the youngest and only daughter of his three adult children with Juanita Vanoy. (Jordan has 6-year-old twin girls with current wife Yvette Prieto Jordan.) “I was super young, so I’m really taking this in as a fan.”

The 10-part docuseries, airing on ESPN in the United States and on Netflix elsewhere, details the 1998 Bulls’ season, Jordan’s final year with the team and the organization’s last championship. While it focuses on the challenges and triumphs of Jordan’s illustrious basketball career, it also delves into personal tragedies, such as the murder of his father, and scandal, such as his public gambling habits.

The Associated Press talked with Jasmine Jordan about growing up as his child, his legacy, and what can turn one of the most intimidating players in the history of basketball turn into Silly Putty. The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

___

AP: Everybody’s been going crazy over “The Last Dance.” What’s been your perspective?

Jordan: It’s been incredible to watch. You know, I didn’t get any previews or anything like that, so I’m watching it real time with everyone else and really just taking it in as a fan, essentially. So it’s been really eye opening. I think if you remove the basketball aspect and all the accolades he achieved for obvious reasons, I think I’m definitely learning that my dad was really trying to take in the pressures and the expectations and not allowing it to weigh on him and really manifesting it to his own. …I’ve definitely been seeing him really take on that role and embracing that role and not running from it and really becoming the greatest player to ever play the game. That’s because he always wanted to do that.

AP: When you see some of those like emotional moments, do you recognize that person as your dad?

Jordan: Some of them, yes. Some of them I do. I know when it comes to the game, his passion is unmatched. His energy’s unmatched. So when he’s going at Steve Kerr or checking Scottie and trying to get that fire and tenacity out of them, I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s Dad.’ I mean, he’ll do that to me just so I can get an A out of a test or two. (laughs) And I’m just trying to pass school, I’m not even winning championships. So that is definitely totally him.

AP: What type of father was he to you?

Jordan: I was definitely a daddy’s girl growing up. And, you know, he still calls me ‘Princess’ to this day and I’m almost 30. … He definitely wanted to coddle and protect and nurture and baby me as much as he can. But you also knew the harsh reality of the burden that I was going to have to endure the older I got. So he wanted to make sure I had tough skin. And I understood that, hey, there’s going to be a target on my back.

AP: How did your relationship, or did it, change after your dad retired?

Jordan: When he was playing, he did his best to be as involved as he could be while I was growing up. He made sure to take me to school when he could or go to my recitals and dance and things like that that I was a part of. So once he retired, it definitely was a change in gears, and it was something that he and I really had a conversation about. It’s like, “OK, you’re done. So how do we work on the relationship? How do we even make it stronger than what it was like?” So we definitely really worked hard and put forth that effort because obviously once you take something you love away from somebody, it’s that hole — it’s a void. So do you fill it or do you just adjust? He definitely adjusted versus trying to find something else to fill it, and that’s something I appreciated. … That’s how we’re so close today.

AP: What type of grandfather has he been to your son?

Jordan: He’s Silly Putty. My son has him wrapped around his fingers already. He’s been very hands on and very involved in my son, even during these crazy times. He FaceTimes everyday or Zoom or something just so that way, that relationship can continue to cultivate and bond and grow. But no, my dad would probably let my son get away with murder at this point. … It’s an incredible relationship to see them develop.

AP: I’m surprised your dad has been this open, just being a fan. So are you surprised at his candor and his openness?

Jordan: Absolutely. It’s definitely surprising because my father is very private. He doesn’t like to comment on social matters or he doesn’t like to respond to things when people want him to. He definitely likes to move methodically on his terms and on his time. And then with saying that, seeing the documentary unfold and he’s getting emotional and he’s sharing his insight and perspective, it’s been incredible to really see. And I love it because it gives him that human nature that I think people forget. You know, he is this incredible phenom, and he’s the G.O.A.T., and everything along those lines. But he’s also human.

There is lockdown fatigue setting in across the nation. People eagerly want to takes steps toward a return to normal, even if they understand that “normal” itself is a long way off. However, people also insist those steps be safe.

That’s where Miami’s Jae Crowder is on an NBA return, and his attitude reflects a lot of players around the league.

Here is what Crowder told Richard Jefferson on a SportsCenter Instagram Live session (hat tip Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel).

“I don’t want to feel like we have to rush because people are at home, not doing nothing, they just want to watch us play basketball and watch us work…

“I just want to be safe. Obviously, I miss the game. We all miss the game. We love the work. But I want to be safe, I don’t want to feel like it’s rushed…. Even though we’re missing out on a lot of money, from the league standpoint, from everybody taking pay cuts and things like that, I want everybody to be safe…

“We have families we have to come back to, you have to realize that. A lot of guys have kids. You have to worry about that. You have to put that into perspective. I’m in for coming back with the season, as long as we have a few bulletin points from our players’ standpoint to get down with the league.”

The debate the NBA and its players are having right now — the one Crowder talks about — is the same one society is having as a whole: How much risk is acceptable?

There is no way to make a 100% safe place for the NBA to resume play, and the draconian steps it would take to make things anywhere near that percentage would not sit well with players. It’s about what is an acceptable level of risk for the reward, and that is a personal decision. It’s not the same for every person, every player, every team. Yet the league and its players need to come to a consensus.

Crowder reminds people that for players, this decision is about more than just pay and returning to work. It’s bigger than that, it’s also about their health and safety. It’s not a simple equation.

It’s just one the league has to figure out in the coming weeks.

Friday, May 15, will be the first check most NBA players receive with 25% of their pay taken out. It’s part of an agreement between the league and players’ union to help prepare for canceled games and the league exercising the “force majeure” provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that lets the owners recoup costs for games canceled by catastrophes (of which a pandemic is one).

However, some of the league’s top-paid players — LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant among others — asked for the majority of their pay upfront (something allowed in the CBA) and those players will have essentially an IOU to the league with money coming out of their salaries for next season.

Former Nets executive Bobby Marks explained the situation at ESPN.

But six of the NBA’s top 10 earners this season — LeBron James, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and Paul George — have already been paid in full and will not see a pay decrease Friday.

Their salary reductions will come out of their advances for the 2020-21 season on Oct. 1 or beginning with their Nov. 15 paychecks. Each player will essentially have an IOU per paycheck to his team ranging from $390,000 (James) to $420,000 (Curry) each time there is a scheduled 25% pay reduction. That amount will increase if games are eventually canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If the league cancels the remainder of the regular season and jumps right into the playoffs, players likely will see the 25% paycheck reduction increase as high as 40%.

If you’re looking for one key reason players want to return to the court, there you go.

The more games played, the more money players will get to keep.

Expect a lot of financial discussions between the league and players union over the coming months — including discussion of cap smoothing — as the league tries to navigate the financial hit from shutting down play due to the coronavirus. Players are going to lose some percentage of their salary for this season due to the virus, but how much is unknown because nobody knows what the final numbers for this season will be yet.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has worked hard to build a trusting relationship with Michele Roberts and Chris Paul from the players’ union, but when the talks turn to money, everything tends to get a little edgier. It’s all just something to watch as the league continues to move through uncharted waters.

Michael Jordan went from overwhelming famous to fairly reclusive.

Yet, thirst for Jordan content remains high. He’s still a basketball legend. His shoe brand helps keep him relevant. Many still hold emotional attachments to the all-time great.

Enter “The Last Dance.”

The ESPN documentary has answered the call with unprecedented access to Jordan – mainly through behind-the-scenes footage of the 1997-98 Bulls and fresh interviews with Jordan.

If that weren’t enough, viewers have obsessed over smaller details like what Jordan is drinking (tequila). It seemed we even got glimpses into his Jupiter, Fla., home in the background of his interviews.

Jason Guerrasio of Insider:

Jordan was interviewed in three houses for the show, and none of them were his.

“The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir told Insider that Jordan refused to be interviewed in his home.

“There are certain aspects of his life that he wants to keep private,” “The Last Dance” director Jason Hehir told Insider.

“I looked for places that seemed like Michael might live in,” said Hehir in why he chose that location. “I knew what his real house looked like and I knew this is a wealthy guy who has certain tastes, so we wanted something to match that.”

This is a good reminder of how much Jordan controls with this documentary. That should increase skepticism about the narrative presented.

But I can’t help but think of three houses’ actual owners. What an incredible ego boost it must be to learn your home resembles Michael Jordan’s!

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