NBA return to play: Medical protocols that will be put in place
The NBA and the NBAPA voted and approved a 22-team return to play format last week with return to play scheduled for July 31st in Orlando, Florida.
The NBA’s 22-team format at Orlando’s Disney World would bring the 16 teams currently in a playoff spot, six additional teams, and include a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.
The NBA suspended play in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are still a number of hurdles to jump over before play resumes, but on thing is clear: The NBA is going to enact strict medical protocols to ensure the safety of the players and everyone involved.
Here are some ideas the NBA is looking to implement with the return of the NBA:
-Players will not be able to shower in the arena and would need to do so in their respective hotels.
There's set to be a high turnover in the locker rooms and will be one less place to clean.
Players will be close to their hotels, so it's a logical safegaurd.
-Bench players will have to sit in spread-out rows, inactive players would sit in the stands.
This protocol is a little confusing. Players will be tested and cleared to play, so being close to someone shouldn't be a problem. Also, players will be in close proximity on the basketball court. Trust that the NBA has its reasoning, but it's not immediately clear the benefit.
-Routine Testing: Players will be tested on a regular basis, and will have daily temperature testing to monitor any player who might be showing symptoms.
This is an uncomfortable, but necessary thing to do while in the bubble. The NBA will need upwards of 15,000 test kits while in the bubble city to test not just the players, but team personnel and other staff that help make the bubble work.
- No guests until the playoffs: Spouse/children would be in a bubble if they were to attend games during this time. No more than three members of a player's family will be allowed, but there will be some exceptions.
Players and their families will also not be able to use the Disney World facilities. So, bringing family along for the possiblity of any semblance of a vaction is just not going to happen.
According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, once a team advances to the conference semifinals, those players can begin to bring friends and family into the bubble. Each team can reserve up to 17 rooms for the guests and players are responsible for paying for the expenses of these rooms. Those guests also must undergo a three-day self-quarantine and testing before entering the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and quarantine for another four days after.
What happens if someone contracts COVID-19?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks:
"If COVID-19 or a serious injury strikes a team during training camps or the eight regular-season seeding games, there are expected to be no limitations on the number of players a team could sign to replace those lost, but there would be restrictions on those in the pool of eligible players, sources said…
Eligible replacement players probably will have had to be signed in the NBA or G League or be on training camp contracts this season, sources said. Under these restrictions, for example, no team could sign veteran Jamal Crawford — who went unsigned all season — or an international player.
The league office has discussed the possibility with its teams that there could be a requirement that those players replaced for COVID-19 or injury would become ineligible to return for the balance of this season."
What if someone leaves the bubble?
If a player does leave the bubble without permission, they will be subjected to a 10-14 day quarantine, decreased salary for games missed, and enhanced testing which includes a deep nasal swab, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
A German soccer league coach, Heiko Herrlich, broke quarantine rules to buy toiletries prior to the team's first game back and was forced to miss time and complete multiple tests with negative results.