While NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks carefully about plans for a possible return to the season, Jared Dudley does not use the same filter. And the Lakers forward is confident that the season will resume in July.
Speaking on ESPN New York Radio’s Bart and Hahn Show on Thursday, Dudley expressed confidence that Silver, the team owners and the players are all on the same page in pushing to finish this season.
“Basically, when it comes down to us, we’re a little different than baseball,” Dudley said. “We already had two-thirds of the season done, so we can finish this season relatively quickly, X days of regular season, go straight to the playoffs, get this done in two months . . . We’re already going to push next season back, the following season, to December, if not January at the latest. Because obviously Adam Silver came out in our [conference call with players] and said he doesn’t mind if this season goes into October and the reason why he doesn’t mind is that hopefully by this time next year, maybe we have a cure, maybe we have a vaccine where we can have fans.”
During the past week, the NBA opened practice facilities and allowed players to work out there under strict safety protocols. While all professional sports try to figure out a way to begin playing again, most likely without fans, Dudley is confident that a plan can be worked out.
“For us, it’s safety obviously first,” the former Net said. “There’s no vaccine coming this year. So what’s the difference of next year? We’re going to be in Orlando at Disney playing games or in Vegas playing games. You’re going to be in the bubble, play your games, go back to the hotel, give the fans something to watch. But us, it’s if we don’t play, then they’re going to [enact] Force Majeure. They’re going to cancel the [collective bargaining agreement]. That guaranteed contract that everybody raves about for NBA players, that’s gone for next season, I don’t care if you have $40 million, $30 million, the cap is going to be different because the [basketball-related income] is going to be [lowered] because of the TV revenue.
“We’re going to be safe in this bubble because of the testing we’re going to be doing before every game. That’s why Adam Silver wants to wait another month or two to be able to sign off on it because he wants everybody in society to be able to get tests first. And second, the data will show the virus that between the ages of 19 and 35, it’s what, 0.001% that someone has died and that’s not even a professional athlete.”
He said he expects a three-week window of training camp to be all that will be allowed before it’s back to action and the Lakers can resume their title chase.
“If we don’t hit a spike and we don’t have a second wave of corona come back in the next two, three weeks, I am 100% confident, me personally, that we will figure out a way to have a season,’’ Dudley said. “Adam Silver has already come out and said he’ll make a decision in two to four weeks, so around that June 8 to 12 type of date, expect a decision. Hopefully the 15th, we go into training camp . . . I could see by that second week of July us playing games, in a neutral site, bubble.”
While some sports find ownership and the players at odds over how to make it work, Dudley said that isn’t the case in the NBA. The sides are working together with a common goal, and he gives much of the credit for that to Silver.
“There are players’ coaches. He’s a players’ [commissioner],'' Dudley said. “He keeps it honest, shows you his hand, he tells you how he feels. He was the one who shut down the league. You talk about trust, he didn’t have to do it. A player got corona, Rudy Gobert, got it and he shut it down. If anything, society and the government followed him.
“I do trust him. I trust the league, I trust Adam Silver, I trust the testing they’re going to put in. They already told you we need 15,000 tests. You will get tested before every game. if you leave that bubble and you get corona, you’re out 14 days. So we’re going to bubble wrap LeBron [James] and [Anthony Davis], we’re going to lock them in the room, we’re going to play cards all day, they can’t go nowhere. That’s how it’s going to be to finish this season.”