NBA Mulls a Bubble for Non-Playoff Teams


Word came out on Thursday (via ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen) that the NBA might add a second bubble in Chicago.

As you are probably aware, 22 of the 30 NBA teams will be competing in Orlando to finish out the 2019-20 season. The league decided to take the 16 teams currently in playoff position plus any teams within six games of a playoff spot (of which there were six).

The NBA is mulling having the remaining eight teams play in Chicago starting at some point in September.

Those eight teams include the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New York Knicks.

What would this addition mean for Tar Heels in the NBA?

Six of the 15 Tar Heels currently on NBA rosters play for one of those eight teams: Coby White (Bulls), John Henson (Pistons), Reggie Bullock (Knicks), Theo Pinson (Knicks), Vince Carter (Hawks) and Wayne Ellington (Knicks).

Why on earth would these teams want to compete in games that ultimately don’t mean anything? Why pay all that money to pull this off? Why risk injury? Why go through all the logistics of another bubble? Have the players on these eight teams even been keeping in game shape?

Great questions, I’m glad you asked them.

Essentially the teams would be looking for opportunities to play basketball. The younger players in the league need all the experience they can get to continue their growth as a professional athlete. Imagine a rookie like Coby White who was really just coming into his own before the suspension hit. The whole rest of his rookie season was cut off. He would likely relish the chance to get back on the floor with his teammates and continue to develop. The Bulls brass almost certainly feels the same.

One general manager told ESPN that “it’s more a chance to get our young guys out there working with some simulation”.

White and Pinson are really the only inexperienced players on that list of six Heels. In addition to the experience for White, the extra games would be a great jump start for Pinson as he finds a niche with his new team.

Does this second bubble mean Vince Carter’s career is actually not finished? No. Carter, and most other veterans, likely wouldn’t even play in these games. That’s not to say that no veterans would attend and/or play, but again these games would be mostly for the purpose of extra reps for young players. At the same time, you would expect to see a few veterans play (or at least attend) in order to provide guidance and work towards developing better team chemistry.

MacMullen reported that “the NBA has discussed setting up the bubble in Chicago with approximately two weeks of practice, then four games for each team.”

Will the second bubble happen? Stay tuned, as more information is likely to come out over the next several days. 

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Comments (2)
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Jonah Lossiah
Jonah Lossiah


As much as I appreciate trying to get the young guys a run, it seems like a huge expense and risk just to play some glorified scrimmages. They know they’re not going to be playing for anything, so I don’t see the level of competition being nearly as high. Neat idea, but I don’t know how this will work.