Brian Windhorst: 'Significant amount of pessimism' NBA season will resume

Brian Windhorst: 'Significant amount of pessimism' NBA season will resume

An abbreviated playoff schedule was floated. 'Bubble cities' were weighed. A push-back to Christmas Day for the 2020-21 NBA season was considered

By all accounts, the NBA has explored every avenue to salvage a resolution to its 2019-20 season, which was suspended on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. But the hurdles have always been immense.

Now, it seems a prevailing sentiment that the season might be lost is beginning to set in.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN in an appearance on SportsCenter:

"It's been a bad week. I think there was optimism about progress a week ago, and some things that have happened this week have turned it south about what could happen. A big factor was what happened in China where they halted the return of their league, and one of the big reasons is because they really believed if they just tested the player's temperature all the time then it would work, and the Chinese are finding that asymptomatic carriers are causing maybe a second wave in that country. And they have just slammed the brakes on sports.

The talks between the player's union and the league this week — I've talked to both sides of this issue — and it's clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down. They don't have to do that yet, and the way they're negotiating they're leaving themselves an option either way. But they are not having talks about how to restart the league. They are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now."

As Windhorst notes, the biggest fulcrum point between the league-wide optimism to "angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down" are recent negative developments in the Chinese Basketball Association. The CBA initially suspended play on Jan. 24, and has since seen a targeted return date of April 15 pushed back into May by government order

Elsewhere in Asia, the Korean Basketball League of South Korea has already cancelled its season. Japan's B League attempted to resume after suspending play on Feb. 29 to disastrous results. The logsitics of quarantining, administering testing and keeping controlled any environment for basketball to be safely played in are immense — even for countries with a head start on where the United States currently is in the response process.

And from the NBA's perspective, given that the scale of the novel coronavirus' impact in the United States still not fully comprehensible, there comes a point where the focus must shift towards not throwing two seasons into disarray.

Windhorst addressed that point on SportsCenter, as well, but said nothing is set in stone yet:

"They (the NBA) do have runway here, I do think that they could, if they had to, go into August or September to finish this season. But I'm not sure they feel confident about that right now," Windhorst continued. "A big factor is testing. We just don't have the testing. At some point, not only does it have to be a test that's quick and can evaluate whether a player is healthy enough to enter a game, you have to know whether you have the tests available, so that you're not taking them away from people who need them.

"Right now, that's not here. If in six or eight weeks it is here, we can have a different conversation, but right now the league is preparing for that answer to be no."

That last point is a salient one. As long as this pandemic remains a global crisis, sports are simply not the top priority. Frankly, they shouldn't be.

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Bulls ‘disappointed’ to not participate in NBA return, but respect compromise

Bulls ‘disappointed’ to not participate in NBA return, but respect compromise

As of a ratification by the Board of Governors Thursday and a pending vote by the NBPA Friday, the NBA’s resumption plan is virtually set in stone.

In it, 22 teams will make the trip to Orlando, Fla. to complete a truncated 2019-20 regular season, possible play-in round for each conference’s eighth seed and a 16-team playoff. The Bulls, at 22-43 and paused eight games back of the Orlando Magic for the East’s eighth spot, did not receive an invite.

In statements, Bulls president and COO Michael Reinsdorf and executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas expressed disappointment for not being able to return to action, but understanding of commissioner Adam Silver’s verdict.

“It is disappointing that we will not return to play for the 2019-20 season, but ultimately this decision is about more than just one team. We are supportive of Commissioner Adam Silver and the outcome of the vote by the NBA Board of Governors,” Reinsdorf said in the release. “We thank Adam and his team for their thoughtful work in exploring all available options to come up with a solution that allows the NBA as a league to resume. They spent countless hours having open dialogue with leaders and experts across various industries, as well as team executives, listening and educating themselves to ensure the NBA made the best, safest decision for the league and our players during these unprecedented times.

“We will now shift our focus to continue to build our team under the new leadership of Arturas Karnisovas and our Basketball Operations Department with a focus on the Draft, free agency and offseason development. To our fans and the great city of Chicago: We thank you for your continued support. Keep moving forward with us as we prepare to return to the court for the 2020-21 season.”

Indeed, the focus now shifts to an elongated and unprecedented offseason for the Bulls. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the NBA Lottery and Draft will be rescheduled for Aug. 25 and Oct. 15, respectively. Shams Charania of The Athletic pinpointed Oct. 18 as a potential start date for free agency. Those dates are reportedly fluid, but they’ll be ones to monitor for Bulls fans.

Also worth keeping an ear to the ground on will be the new regime’s decision on the future of head coach Jim Boylen with the franchise, as well as restricted free agents Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine, and various others along the basketball operations department and roster.

Karnisovas evidently saw some benefit to the Bulls returning to action from an evaluation perspective, but conveyed understanding for the difficult situation the league currently finds itself in.

“To be included in the plan to restart the 2019-20 season would have been a positive for our players and their development, but we understand the need to compromise and we support the decision made today by the NBA Board of Governors,” Karnisovas said in his statement.  “We are disappointed that our season is over and there won’t be opportunities to see our team or players in game action, but we will be creative in discovering new opportunities to support their growth as we prepare for the next season. Commissioner Adam Silver had the difficult responsibility to develop the best option for the league, and I commend him for the job he has done, particularly given the extraordinary circumstances.”

Karnisovas and new general manager Marc Eversley will reportedly soon head to Chicago. Much of the team is out of market, and there are no games left to be played, but getting under one roof — even for a spell — should only benefit the organization in their quest to “build” under new leadership.

The Bulls' final game of the 2019-20 campaign was a 108-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 10. The NBA suspended its season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic March 11.

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NBA 22-team format: When the 2020-21 NBA season begin

NBA 22-team format: When the 2020-21 NBA season begin

The NBA's Board of Governors approved a competitive format to restart 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play. The 22 teams returning to play will tentatively start on Friday, July 31.

But what does that mean for the 2020-21 season?

With the NBA Finals slated to end no later than October 12, the season will have to be delayed. Last season began on October 22, 2019.

This year, the NBA Draft is scheduled to take place on Oct. 15.

It's a fluid situation, but the NBA says "the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on Dec. 1, 2020."

There is still a lot of unknown about the 2020-21 season. Will the NBA try to condense the schedule to get back to a normal timeline for 2021-22? Will the NBA schedule forever be permanently altered?

Another note to keep in mind, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was postponed to 2021, beginning on July 23, 2021. That could put the NBA Finals just a couple of weeks before the Sumer Games begin.

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