Back in March of 2020, it was unclear if the NBA was going to be able to resume the season as the COVID-19 pandemic was still in effect. Getting back to normal this season was impossible. And continuing games with travel at other team's arenas was pretty much out of the question at the time.
So the NBA had really only one realistic option. That was to create a bubble environment where no players come in or go out as long as they are competing for the season's resumption. The Orlando bubble took months to plan, and the NBA has executed it nearly to perfection this summer.
Soon enough, the 2019-2020 season will conclude with proper closure thanks to the bubble. While everything will work out in the end -- the NBA is hopeful that the bubble situation is just a one-time thing. As the league is already looking ahead and trying to plan the 2020-2021 season, it sounds like the bubble idea is becoming a worst-case scenario situation as it's "the last thing anybody wants to do," according to ESPN's NBA Insider, Adrian Wojnarowski.
"There was a lot of talk, even a month ago, six weeks ago, about starting next year in a bubble. That 'hey, we have to be open to the idea.' And the further we were in that bubble and it went along, the more and more I got a sense, and I think others got a sense that, I think everybody in the league wants to do everything they can to not go back to it. I don't think they've ruled the bubble out, but it is kind of the last thing anyone wants to do right now." h/t RealGM
The bubble was unique this year, but players and coaches went in with the expectation that they were getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If the NBA goes down that route again, we could likely expect more opt-outs as the bubble is far from ordinary.
Plus, it's clear the NBA wants to get back to normal at some capacity. Getting fans back in the stands is a priority, so the league is willing to wait for next season's start date. While we know next season won't tip off until after Christmas, Wojnarowski recently predicted a February start -- and also wouldn't rule out March.
Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offered a more promising prediction as he stated next season could potentially start in January of 2021. While Silver was just being optimistic and making an educated guess, at least the league is doing all they can to try and start as early as possible with everything getting back to normal.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_