Right now, the pressure is ramping up both in the USA with the NBA and here with the NBL for teams to get on the boards and resume hostilities. In Australia, the pre-season for the NBL would normally commence in mid to late June. In the US, the NBA must complete the current season.
In the US, the situation looks muddled. Lockdown just hasn’t been as effective as in other places, a very high infection and mortality rate being the result. There is a fair bit of white noise emanating from various sectors of the game and its commentators, however many states are still in severe lockdown and are unlikely to approve any such activities in sport or public gatherings.
From the Bleacher Report…
LeBron, Giannis, Steph Curry, More Stars in Favour of NBA Resuming Season
LeBron James and the biggest stars in the NBA have reportedly “formed a united front to resume the 2019-20 season,” which has been on hiatus because of the coronavirus, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
NBPA President and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul arranged a private conference call Monday that reportedly included James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday the NBPA was polling players about whether they wanted the season to continue.
The players’ association denied the report and said it “has not authorized any formal poll of its players,” per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.
The league has been patient about a potential return, with Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly saying a decision didn’t need to be made in May, per Wojnarowski.
Teams were allowed to reopen facilities last week, though some organizations must remain closed for at least several more weeks based on local restrictions.
Some team executives and agents have reportedly called for the NBA to cancel the remainder of the season, according to Jabari Young of CNBC.
However, there is at least some support among players to return and determine a champion.
The stars on the call carry a lot of weight with 71 combined All-Star appearances and nine MVP awards among the nine players Hayes listed.
Though James and Antetokounmpo would have a lot to gain with a return—the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks would be expected to contend for the title—that’s not the case with all the others. Curry and Lillard are on teams that would not currently land in the playoff field, while Durant hasn’t played all season while recovering from an Achilles injury.
As Haynes noted, a canceled season could have lasting effects regarding the collective bargaining agreement.
This group of high-profile players could help push the league toward a restart.
Here in Australia, there is some likelihood of a return to the courts for the NBL on time. However, it’s likely to see televised games only with no public attendance permitted.
From the NBL…
NBL Looks at Start Date for 2020/21 Season
The NBL has commenced work on identifying a start date for the 2020-21 Hungry Jack’s NBL Season as it works with the clubs and other key stakeholders for the return of basketball in Australia.
NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman said: “It’s very pleasing to see Australia leading the way when it comes to bringing COVID-19 under control and hopefully we are all going to return to some sort of more normal life over the coming weeks and months.
“We are also encouraged by the progress other professional sporting leagues are making as they seek to return and we will monitor them and work with the relevant health authorities and government as we look to bring basketball back.
“We are also talking with the clubs about plans for next season including identifying a start date. We also want to do everything we can to be able to accommodate fans at games even if it means ramping up attendances as the season progresses.
“We are taking a positive and proactive approach and will continue to assess options and hope to be in a position by mid-year to be able to confirm plans for the coming season.
“We believe the NBL will remain a highly attractive option for players from both Australia and New Zealand and around the world should borders be re-opened. The NBL is one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA and Australia will without doubt be one of the safest places in the world to play in.
“We respect the rights of players to test the market. The agreement with the Australian Basketball Players’ Association was done by the NBL on behalf of the clubs who were unanimous in their support of the players and wanted to avoid stand downs as they managed the impact of the virus.
“Those players who choose to explore their options can still opt back in to their NBL contracts and we believe there will be a number who do so as the situation in regards to COVID-19 and its impact on various basketball leagues around the world becomes clearer.
“We are very encouraged by the large number of players who have indicated their desire to play in the NBL and we have no doubt the league will remain of a very high standard, attracting top players and enjoyed by fans across Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.”
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