Twenty-four hours ago, the NBA was barreling toward a restart. Dates were being finalized, bubbles were being prepared and it appeared that everything was moving toward the return of hoops.
A video call between an estimated 80 players has now put that idea in jeopardy. Players are concerned about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and potentially distracting from the growing Black Lives Matter movement around the country after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody. There's also the matter of returning to play after such a long layoff.
An NBA source confirmed to NBC Sports California that Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox was part of a second call on Friday afternoon between a group of top young players and the NBPA, which was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The content of that call was regarding the potential for the league to provide league-financed insurance policies for players, especially those like Fox, who are eligible for a major extension later this year.
ESPN Sources: On cusp of hundreds of millions in contract extensions, several of NBA’s top young stars had a Friday call with NBPA officials about possibility of league-financed insurance policies to protect against career-threatening injuries in Orlando: https://t.co/54btNpSp70— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 13, 2020
Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum – members of the 2017 draft class soon eligible rookie extensions -- are talking with NBPA about facilitating with league on insurance allowances for players. https://t.co/lRskauNjSK— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 13, 2020
In his third NBA season, Fox has taken another huge step forward in his production. When the league was forced into hiatus, the 22-year-old was averaging 20.4 points, 6.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 31.7 minutes per game.
After missing 17 games early in the season due to a severely sprained ankle, Fox was playing the best basketball of his career when the league was forced to close, and he had the Kings just three and a half games out of the eighth seed in the West with 18 games remaining on the schedule.
This is a logical ask for all players, but specifically for those from the 2017 NBA Draft class like Fox, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Jayson Tatum and Lauri Markkanen, who are all expecting huge extension offers following this season.
It’s clear that the Kings highly value Fox and that he is the face of the franchise. He is eligible for up to a five year “designated player extension,” which would allow the Kings to offer him five years at 25 percent of the team’s salary cap.
In a normal offseason, Fox, as well as most NBA players, would be in a gym working out throughout the summer. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, this hasn’t been an option for plenty of players, and restarting the season after more than four months off is a risk, especially for the eight-game abbreviated schedule currently agreed upon.
An NBA source confirmed that despite the concerns, Fox is looking forward to finishing the season, with an eye on snapping the Kings’ 13-year playoff drought. He, along with others, would like some guarantees before they jump back in the fray.