Will the NBA realistically be able to hold its season uninterrupted as COVID-19 rages on?
That question became a valid one on Monday after the league announced that it was postponing two more games because of health protocols. That means in its first 20 days of play, the NBA has had to postpone four games because of the virus.
Monday night’s New Orleans vs. Dallas game and Tuesday night’s Chicago vs. Boston game were postponed because teams fell short of having the eight available players required to proceed. It was the third game in two days to be postponed.
The league’s general managers met on Monday to discuss the situation and consult with the National Basketball Players Association. The NBA’s Board of Governors, which is made up of commissioner Adam Silver and team owners and representatives, is scheduled to meet to discuss the virus on Tuesday.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass told Newsday on Monday that there is no talk of pausing the season.
"We anticipated that there would be game postponements this season and planned the schedule accordingly," he said. "There are no plans to pause the season, and we will continue to be guided by our medical experts and health and safety protocols."
According to multiple reports, the topics discussed by the general managers Monday included the elimination of shootarounds, the reduction of practices, more mask-wearing and a potential limitation on the number of people who can be around players. Any changes in protocols are expected to be announced by the league after Tuesday’s meeting.
The league, of course, is not alone in feeling the effects of the virus, given that there has been a surge across the country. Nevertheless, the recent postponements have some talking about the need to pause the season.
"I think the league is doing the best they can. It is an awful world right now," Nets coach Steve Nash said in a Zoom call after practice on Friday. "We’re all facing this, whether you’re an NBA team, player, front office, or you’re somebody who works in the industry. It’s an awful world, a scary world, we’re losing lives every single day in big numbers.
"So I think the league is doing the best we can. We are trying our best to get through the season, but I think we have to be ready for anything and we are all concerned. We are also all really prepared to fight through this and consider as many options as possible to get through this season. But that doesn’t eliminate the risks, the challenges and the possibility that it’s untenable at some point."
Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if he is concerned that a shutdown is possible.
"Whatever the league decides along with our medical staff, that’s where we’ll be," he said. "So I’m concerned in general just because what the numbers are saying throughout our country."
This comes after the NBA was praised for the success of its bubble, which allowed the league to finish last season but restricted teams to a single playing site in Orlando. Despite the zero positive tests during the restart, however,there is little enthusiasm for returning to a bubble situation.
"The bubble in itself is a good idea," the Nets’ Joe Harris said. "It’s the safest place we could have been at the time, you’re really able to dedicate everything to the game, there’s not a lot of distractions, there’s a huge emphasis on recovery, you’re not traveling a ton. The basketball quality of the game was just really good, but the other side of it is that it’s tough.
"From a mental perspective, you’re isolated, you don’t get to be around your loved ones, you’re staying in an unfamiliar sort of hotel for 40-plus days. You put anybody in that environment, it’s not ideal in terms of a working environment. Guys are going to make the most of it regardless and we’ll do what is asked of us, but certainly not the ideal scenario."