The NBA continues to take steps towards getting back out onto the floor.
Saturday morning, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass stated the NBA was in talks with Disney about playing out the remainder of the season at its ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
The NBA has entered into exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Corporation about restarting the remainder of its season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida in late July, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said Saturday.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2020
Here’s the full quote from NBA spokesman Mike Bass on negotiations with Disney. pic.twitter.com/29YSod7f9i— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2020
"The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing," Bass said. "Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."
According to ABC News, another subsidiary company of Disney, it's unclear if the NBA will play out the remainder of the regular-season or go straight to the postseason. According to Keith Smith, Disney wants to host the NBA as long as the league needs and will "be ready when they need us to be."
Spoke with a source from Walt Disney World moments ago: "Our plan is very comprehensive. We're prepared to host the NBA for as long as it takes to finish this season. We believe we are the best suited site to handle something of this magnitude due to our considerable resources."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 23, 2020
Final item from a Walt Disney World source: "There are still finer details to be worked out, as this is a very complicated venture. But we believe it will get done. As far as timing goes, within reason, that will be determined by the NBA. We'll be ready when they need us to be."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 23, 2020
The NBA season has been indefinitely suspended since March 11th when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 just before the Jazz tipped off against Oklahoma City. Progress towards playing games has been minimal since then due to the lack of certainty around the timeline of the pandemic and the ability to secure the mass testing necessary to conduct games.
Heading straight into the postseason would mean NBA players would most likely miss out on a significant portion of their pay.
In Early April, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum said that the players were "on pace to lose about 23.5 percent of income of this season." Then, on April 17, the NBA and NBA Player's Association agreed to have future paychecks be reduced by 25% to account for the season's suspension.
In May, the NBA began reopening team facilities for players to workout under strict safety conditions such as only individual workouts, social distancing of 12 feet, players must wear face masks at all times, except when engaged in physical activity, staffers working with players must wear gloves, no more than four players in the facility at a time and one per basket, and each team must assign one senior executive to the position of “Facility Hygiene Officer.”
Portland was one of the first teams to open their facilities’ doors.
When it opened on May 8 a total of nine players out of the 11 who are still in the area showed up to use the Trail Blazers practice facility. Anfernee Simons, Trevor Ariza and Hassan Whiteside are all not currently in Portland but will be recalled back in early June.
Walt Disney World and Las Vegas have been the two leading contenders for the NBA to finish out the season but it appears like the league will be Orlando bound.
Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum has said multiple times that he is in favor of the idea of playing out the rest of the season at a single site.
If it's safe and they're able to pull it off, I wouldn't mind playing in one city. It'd kind of give you those NCAA Tournament vibes a little bit. -- CJ McCollum
He had expressed concerns at playing in Vegas stating “I think if you did it in Las Vegas you’d have to shut down the strip. I don’t know where you could find an area that’s completely isolated from outsiders. And that’s the problem that I think MLB and most sports are facing.”
For the Blazers to continue their season, the league would need to play games leading up to the postseason, such as finishing out the regular-season or having a play-in tournament to determine the final playoff berths. Portland currently sits 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.