Slowly, the NBA is attempting to safely reopen with the hopes of potentially salvaging the 2019-20 season. It’s a complicated situation and there is no room for missteps as the coronavirus pandemic edges towards 100,000 deaths in the United States.
While the focus has been on how to resume the game and what that might look like, there is another question looming: Do players want to get back to the action with so much lingering uncertainty?
On the latest episode of the Purple Talk podcast, Kings assistant coach Bobby Jackson, who is currently working out with players at the team’s practice facility, gave his opinion on the matter.
“Honestly, I think the guys want to play basketball,” Jackson said. “I think they want to play in a safe environment though and I know the NBA will do a great job of putting us in a great environment that will allow us to be safe.”
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Jackson has a good feel, not just from the coaching perspective, but also as a player after spending 12 seasons in the league. He misses the game and he’s pretty sure most of the players feel the same way.
“They’ve been doing this their whole life,” Jackson said. “You take two months off from a season -- if you’re not ready to play, something is wrong with you.”
There are conversations being floated by the league of potentially playing the remaining schedule in one location, like Orlando, Florida or Las Vegas, Nevada. The games would go on without fans in attendance, but there would be an opportunity to not only finish the regular season out, but also the postseason.
The financial implications of finishing out the year would be a tremendous boost for the league, which is suffering damages in the hundreds of millions at this point. While that should be a concern for everyone involved, the safety of players and staff is the No. 1 priority.
“I think every guy really wants to get back, they want to get back into the swing of things, because you miss it,” Jackson added. “It’s a part of your life. It’s a part of your body. You’ve got a close-knit family and brotherhood that you’ve been a part of throughout the season and nothing is better than getting back out on the floor with the guys you love going to war with.”
The Kings opened the doors to the practice facility on May 11 for voluntary workouts. Roughly half of the team is in Sacramento taking advantage of the gym, with the potential for more to return as soon as momentum builds towards a potential resumption of the season. When the season was put on hiatus, the Kings were in a three-way tie for the ninth-best record in the Western Conference, three-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot.
There is no word yet on whether the league will look to finish the Kings’ final 18 games or if they will try to abbreviate the schedule in some way down the stretch.