The only thing that is certain regarding the potential restart of the 2019-20 season is uncertainty.
In an interview with Time100 Talks’ Sean Gregory, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke on the return of the league under the “Orlando bubble” concept and why the league was pushing forward with a restart, instead of canceling the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.
“There’s no way of knowing where this pandemic is going,” Silver told Gregory. “And what we’ve concluded is that we simply can’t run from it, and that like so many other industries, we’re looking to find the right balance between health and safety on one hand and economic necessity on the other.”
Safeguards are being put in place in Orlando. Players, staff and Disney workers will all be tested daily. The perimeter of the area will be secured and all physical contact with the outside world will be limited.
Although all of these measures are being put in place, nothing is certain. Despite already losing a four-month window, the league could be halted at any time.
"Never full steam ahead no matter what," Silver said. "One thing we are learning about this virus is much, it’s unpredictable, and we and our players together with their union look at the data on a daily basis. If there were something to change that was outside of the scope of what we are playing for, certainly, we would revisit our plans.
"We are testing daily. We haven't put a precise number on it, but if we were to see a large number of cases and see spread in our community, that would of course be a cause to stop as well."
When asked if there was a specific tipping point that might trigger a stoppage, Silver was uncertain.
“Honestly, I’m not sure,” Silver said. “We have a panel of scientists, doctors, experts that are working with us. We’re going to see as we go.” Silver said. “Certainly, if we have a lot of cases, we’re going to stop,” he says. “You cannot run from this virus. I am absolutely convinced that it will be safer on this campus than off this campus, because there aren’t many other situations I’m aware of where there’s mass testing of asymptomatic employees. So in some ways, this is maybe a model for how other industries ultimately open.”
The Kings have already faced the issue of the highly contagious virus first hand. Buddy Hield, Alex Len and Jabari Parker have all tested positive in the last week and they aren’t the only players to face quarantine.
16 out of 302 players in the league (including the three Kings) initially tested positive and another two in Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan met the same fate over the weekend. Both the Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets have had to close their practice facilities due to potential contamination.
The NBA will tread lightly and hope for the best. They have a thorough plan in place, but even that might not be enough. July 30th is still a month away and as we are learning, so much can change in a matter of 30 days.