The NBA is in shutdown mode due to the novel coronavirus pandemic but if and when it will return to action is the question everyone wants to be answered. LeBron James had stated in mid-March that he wouldn’t want to play unless there were fans in the stands but after getting a few days to think about it he stated, “It’s funny because when I was asked the question of would you play without ... fans, I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus,” James said. “Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that is what I play for, I play for my family, I play for my fans. They say no one could actually come to the game if they decide to go to that point, so I would be disappointed in that. But at the same time, you’ve got to listen to the people that are keeping track of what’s going on. If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it.”
Fast forward and there is talk that some of the teams will be opening up their practice facilities on May 8th but in a limited fashion, depending on the jurisdiction. It’s a step in the right direction and a ray of hope in a season of despair. And if you believe some of the industry sources that there are those in the league who want to cancel the season then think again, at least according to a recent LeBron tweet, "Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season?" "That’s absolutely not true."... "Nobody I know saying anything like that."... "As soon as it’s safe, we would like to finish our season. I’m ready, and our team is ready."... "Nobody should be canceling anything."
There are still online books dealing NBA odds on the season which is a positive sign but if the season is to return in some altered fashion then Sin City could very well be the venue with Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino as ground zero. MGM Resorts International has offered to house players’ families, broadcast media, league vendors, as well as officials and team staff, into what would be a completely quarantined campus. There is a convention center that could be transformed into a staging area for 24 basketball courts, five of which would be used to broadcast the games while the rest would be designated as practice facilities.
The fly in the ointment is not the lack of testing kits that would be available to the NBA players, staff, and its entire retinue as many companies have offered to supply the approximately 15,000 COVID-19 testing kits which would be necessary to ensure the health and safety of all involved. However, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, is reticent to accept the offer as it would reduce the supply that could be offered to the general public.
The NFL held their draft on time and on schedule despite the change in venue from a splashy Vegas setting to a digital teleconference that went off seamlessly. The NBA must now deal with their own draft, originally slated for June 25th, and it appears as though the chances of that happening unabated are getting slimmer by the day. According to sources, the new date would be on or about August 1st as teams have been unable to effectively scout and vet players as is standard procedure. However, it should be considered that neither did the NFL to a large degree and all the teams would be working under the same constraints. In any case if it is done many believe that Anthony Edwards is the favorite to be the first pick with an average of 19.1 points and 5.2 rebounds over 32 games, it makes complete sense.
The NBA Draft Lottery and NBA Draft Combine have been suspended indefinitely, according to a league press release and the falling of those dominos is likely to affect the draft as well. If the teams don’t know the order of the draft (via the lottery) then it’s impossible for them to decide on a group of players that will likely be available at their particular draft spots. Only time will tell, but right now, it appears we will be watching the next generation of NBA talent being welcomed to their new teams sometime in August or even September.