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Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

Adam Silver explains why NBA won't make a decision on 2019-20 season in April

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday night in a conversation with TNT’s Ernie Johnson that the league will make no decisions on the state of its season in the month of April.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Throughout his discussion with Johnson, Silver emphasized that there are too many unknowns for it to be wise to take definitive action at this stage.

Shortly after Silver’s remarks, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported the NBA was in the exploratory phase of assessing blood-testing devices for the coronavirus that could deliver results within 15 minutes. 

When we initially shut down … there was a notion of 30 days before there was any of the widespread view at that point that our country would, in essence, be entirely shut down over the next several weeks," Silver said. "And so the fact is, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then. Just as I listen to the public health experts and the people that are advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we had thought at that point, and it therefore may peak earlier. What that means in terms of our ability to come back at some point in late spring or summer is still unknown to me. 

And essentially what I’ve told my folks over the past week is that we should just accept, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions. I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be. But at least I do know, I think just to settle everyone down a little, it doesn’t mean internally … that we aren’t looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season. But I think it honestly is just too early, given what’s happening right now, to be able to project or predict where we’ll be in a few weeks.

Silver was asked by Johnson if a resumed season would pick up in the playoffs, with the remaining regular-season games canceled. If the season had continued as normal, the final regular-season games would have taken place on Sunday. 

“Honestly, we haven’t made any decisions,” he said. “In a perfect world, yes, we would try to finish the regular season in some form and then move on to the playoffs. … What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is we just have too little information to make those sort of projections.” 

He touched on a few of the reported options on the table for the league, including a postseason at a single site such as Las Vegas, and indicated the NBA has indeed considered several of those possibilities.

“There’s been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament,” Silver said. “Again, we’re in listening mode right now. We’ve been contacted by many of those jurisdictions [about] what our level of interest is and we’ve talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again, there’s too much unknown right now.” 

Silver also addressed how the NBA might change in future seasons. He indicated arenas may need to institute physical distancing policies. 

“I’m hoping, at least, that those are short-term issues where we might have to put in effect some sort of social distancing when people first come back to arenas,” he said. “I think a lot of that is specific to this virus and when there might be a vaccine, and if there’s an interim period, even when we’re back to work, where there’s not a vaccine yet — there’s concern about a second wave, what will we need to do?

"But I also have tremendous belief in this country. What’s amazing about Americans not only is their resilience, but the spirit of innovation. … I think we’re going to see a new approach to a lot of these problems.”

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2020 NBA return plan: Adam Silver says NBA is in '1st inning,' explains COVID-19 precautions

2020 NBA return plan: Adam Silver says NBA is in '1st inning,' explains COVID-19 precautions

In an appearance Thursday night on "The NBA on TNT," commissioner Adam Silver emphasized that the NBA still has several important concerns it must address before resuming the 2019-20 season.

While the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a 22-team plan to finish the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, beginning on July 31, Silver framed that vote as the first of many steps.

“It’s been a very difficult process,” he said. “And I should say, to mix sporting metaphors, we’ve got a long way to go here. We’re really in the equivalent of the first inning.” 

Silver explained why the NBA felt comfortable proposing a plan now after first suspending the season on March 11, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Of course we’ve always been looking for whether or not there is an appropriate and safe way that we can resume basketball,” Silver said, “and knowing that we’re going to be living with this virus for a while. … We’ve been exploring with the players whether there can be a new normal here.”

He singled out Hornets chairman Michael Jordan as an advocate for maintaining as typical a conclusion to the season as possible. The 22-team plan includes eight “seeding games” and the possibility of a play-in tournament if the eighth and ninth seeds finish within four games of each other. The postseason, however, would follow a traditional format, with 16 teams and four best-of-seven series to determine a champion.

Jordan “felt it was very important, after we established the 16 teams, to not be gimmicky,” Silver said. 

What’s next for the NBA? First, the league must secure approval from the National Basketball Players Association. The NBPA is set to meet Friday, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, and it sounds like the Players Association may have reservations about certain aspects of the league’s plan. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski she was “surprised” to see a tentative date of Nov. 10 to start training camps for the 2020-21 season. Oct. 12 would be the last possible date for Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals under the owners-approved plan.

“We’ve had extensive discussions with the Players Association,” Silver said, “but we haven’t finished those negotiations.”

Silver outlined some of the precautions the league might enact to minimize coronavirus-related risk, but he acknowledged there are still unanswered questions. He said players would need to maintain physical distancing protocols, even when away from the court. There may also be more stringent safety measures for older coaches and personnel more susceptible to COVID-19. 

“Obviously the most significant changes from when we shut down are we’re playing without fans, we’re playing in a central location, we’re playing on a campus where the players are going to remain there throughout the competition,” he said. “The players are going to be tested … most likely daily.”

“… Certain coaches may not have to be the bench coach. They may have to maintain social distancing protocols … but when it comes to actual play, we may not want them that close to players, in order to protect (the coaches). Those are all issues we’re working through.”

If the NBA does ultimately travel to Disney World, what are the contingencies if players, coaches or other team staffers test positive for the coronavirus? When asked specifically by Charles Barkley if a positive test in the playoffs would force a team to withdraw, Silver said, “we don’t believe we would need to.”

He said the league’s current belief, based on discussions with NBA health consultants and public health officials in Florida, is that it would be possible to contain a player, trace his contacts and allow a team to proceed because of daily testing. 

That’s one question of many Silver seems aware he’ll need a satisfactory response for if the NBA is indeed going to proceed with this season under very unusual circumstances. 

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Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant randomly bought a minority stake in the Philadelphia Union

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USA Today Sports Images/MLS.com

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant randomly bought a minority stake in the Philadelphia Union

Strange but true: Kevin Durant now owns (part of) the Philadelphia Union.

The NBA megastar reportedly purchased a minority stake in Philly's pro soccer team this week, according to the Sports Business Journal, worth somewhere between 1% and 5%.

Whether Durant purchased the stake himself, or through his Thirty Five Ventures umbrella company, is unclear, according to the SBJ.

Durant was seen meeting with Union ownership this past December, raising eyebrows after the Maryland native tried on more than one occassion to buy a stake in the MLS's D.C. United, according to the SBJ.

I'll say it: Durant buying a stake in the Union feels ... super random? 

Trying to buy a stake in D.C. United makes plenty of sense for Durant. He's very proud of his DMV upbringing, so latching on to the local soccer team, in a league that still has plenty of room to grow, is a smart business move with explainable roots.

But Durant opting for the Union, after being turned down by United, is just odd. (Of course, he's no stranger to opting for an easier path.)

Durant joins former teammate and Houston Rockets guard James Harden among the MLS's notable NBA athlete minority owners. Harden holds a minority stake in the league's Houston Dynamo, along with the NWSL's Houston Dash. 

I wonder if we'll see Durant hanging around Chester real casual, before heading over to the newly-named Subaru Park.

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