So there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is, according to multiple reports, that the NBA is planning on postponing both the Draft Lottery and the Combine, which were originally scheduled to take place in Chicago later this month.
The NBA postponed the May Draft Lottery and Combine today, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2020
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 1, 2020
The Lottery was slated for May 19 with the Combine kicking off just a few days later, running from May 21 through May 24. Since the coronavirus put a halt on the 2019-20 season back in mid-March, this is some of the first concrete news we’re hearing from the NBA. May 1 has long been deemed the day that the NBA’s Board of Governors would finally start to make some decisions, and now that the calendar has switched over from April, we’re beginning to receive some answers.
While they did not make any rulings on the status of the NBA Draft set for June 25 just yet, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that it will likely be pushed back to a later date, as well.
The NBA's Board of Governors voted on those items in a conference call today, but held off on formally pushing back the June 25 Draft date — although sources still expect that will eventually be done.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2020
But I did say there would be good news! Although it feels minor, comparatively. Marc Stein of The New York Times feels like these moves imply the league is planning on salvaging what is still left of the NBA’s regular season before they jump into the playoffs.
A positive to take from this is the fact that delaying the draft lottery reinforces that the NBA hopes to restart this season with regular-season games
Can't have a draft lottery until the 2019-20 NBA standings are final … and they are clearly not final
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 1, 2020
Had the NBA decided to stay the course with the original dates of the Lottery and the Combine, then it would have been safe to assume that the roughly 15-18 games left on each franchise’s regular-season schedule would have canceled and the league would leap straight into the playoffs. Whatever teams were left outside of the playoff standings would have stayed there.
Woj also reported that the NBA discussed moving the 2020-21 season to a December start date – an idea that has floated around for weeks now (and something I am personally all for). From all accounts, it feels like the NBA has zero interest in canceling what is left of the current 2019-20 season.
But even still, organizing any sort of basketball event is going to be an insanely difficult challenge. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports pitched the idea of the NBA setting up a “bubble” venue down in Orlando’s Walt Disney World a couple of weeks ago and it appears that the NBA is seriously considering it. The concept of each franchise playing in their respective home arenas has all but vanished. There are way too many hiccups that would endanger the health of everyone inside the arena, even if there are no fans.
Considering some states are slowly entering the first phase of reopening, there will be franchises that can start to bring players into their training facilities earlier than others. For instance, according to a post by The Athletic, all three NBA teams in Texas can return to their arenas next Friday, while the teams in California will have to wait. Some teams will be able to practice, and others won’t, which can be seen as a competitive advantage. Even for the teams that can return to practice, there will be strict guidelines as to how their health will be checked.
Walt Disney World would actually be about as perfect a location the NBA might be able to find. There are enough hotels and basketball facilities to make it happen, as Smith points out, but there would need to be a massive increase in testing of the virus. It’s not just the players that would need testing, but everyone that might step foot in the building – from broadcast crews to arena workers to referees and so-on. Without increased testing, there is no safe and accurate way to determine who will be cleared of the virus or not when they enter the arena. According to a report by ESPN, the NBA does not plan on testing asymptomatic players and they’ll need approximately 15,000 tests just to make this work. However, they would need to do so without taking away tests that might go to someone in more serious need.
As stated in the same ESPN article, NBA teams could be in the “bubble” for up to three months if the league intends on finishing up the regular season; and that would come with constant testing and close supervision. There are a billion moving parts to this. But it genuinely feels like the NBA is going to do whatever it takes to finish off the season and then figure everything out from there. If the NBA’s top money-maker, LeBron James, thinks the season is going to continue, then I’d bet the league as a whole feels pretty optimistic.
Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything. ?
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 30, 2020