Week in Review: NBA season return still full of questions

Questions linger about the NBA's return this season and next, protests continue after the killing of George Floyd, and what to expect after the league's extended hiatus
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The NBA may be well on its way to a return this summer, but there is still reportedly a group of players concerned with the league's plan to continue the season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The past week has been full of reports about the league's return which is reportedly set to start on July 30, instead of July 31 as was initially reported, per Wojnarowski.

NBA teams will reportedly be invited to Orlando for a training camp starting July 9 and given three weeks to prepare before the season returns on the 30th, Wojnarowski reported Friday.

The league's plan will reportedly include 22 teams playing in Orlando with six teams eliminated within the first 40 days and another eight gone by the 53rd day. Additionally, no visitors will be allowed inside the bubble until after the first round of the playoffs, nearly seven weeks after training camp opens in mid-July, ESPN reported.

This has been one of the biggest causes for concern from players, Wojnarowski reported Wednesday.

"Players are citing a number of concerns, including family situations, the inability to leave the Disney World Resort campus, the coronavirus pandemic and the implications surrounding the emergence of social justice causes in the country, sources said. Participants in Orlando -- including players -- will not be allowed to leave the bubble environment without a 10-day quarantine upon their return to the Disney grounds, sources said."

Some Black players have privately voiced displeasure with the idea of returning to play games to "entertain the masses" while being sequestered without their families for an extended period of time, Yahoo's Chris Haynes reported Friday.

“What message are we sending by agreeing to this during this time?” a black player told Yahoo Sports. “We’re out here marching and protesting, and yet we all leave our families in these scary times and gather to perform at a place where the owners won’t be at? What type of sense does that make? We’ll be going backwards. That place isn’t that magical.”

Haynes reported that several players have been reluctant to express their views out of "fear of opposing the superstars who are adamant about playing if proper safety measures are in place." 

The NBA will reportedly allow players to opt-out of playing the remainder of the season if they feel uncomfortable returning; however, those players will not be paid for their missed games. If players do decide not to move to Orlando or if anyone tests positive for COVID-19, teams will be allowed to replace their sidelined players, Wojnarowski reported.

Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said the NBA has told league general managers that the 2020-21 NBA season could be condensed as to maintain the league's traditional schedule as much as possible.

"If you're going from the middle of October to starting the season [on] the 1st of December, if you are one of the teams in the Finals, that's quick," Schlenk told ESPN. "But they want to try to stay as close to the historical timing as possible. So I don't think this is something you'll see stick. They've talked to us on one of our GM calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year. More so than in the past. As you know, there's been a big drive to avoid back-to-backs and certainly four in five nights, but we might find ourselves in a situation next year where it would be much more condensed."

Expect the unexpected.

It’s a piece of advice for NBA fans from Dr. Stuart Phillips, a kinesiology professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.

It will have been almost five months between NBA games when the season returns with 22 teams on July 31. While teams will have a month of training camp to get back into shape, things could still look pretty different when games commence, according to Phillips.

“You’re going to see some mistakes that you wouldn't have otherwise expected, you're going to see some rust, you're going to see some miscommunication,” Phillips said. “You might see a few teams stumble that you would have thought maybe would do better than they did and maybe this is the year for the surprise or somebody to kind of rise out of nowhere.”

“Whether you're White, Black, whoever, I hope that you take this chance to educate yourselves, to vote, sign petitions, donate, change policies, that we use this global call for action for good and to actually make change,” Natalie Achonwa said.

LeBron James has reportedly teamed up with Trae Young, Jalen Rose, and WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith to create an organization called More Than a Vote that will aim to inspire African-Americans to register and vote in November's general election, per the New York Times.xt