If the Los Angeles Lakers are going to finish their season despite the threat of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, shutting things down for now, it’s going to take some drastic thinking from the NBA, and according to a recent report, that might be exactly what the league is doing.
Over the weekend, Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed that the league is considering bringing everyone together in one place (after being tested for the coronavirus, of course) and playing games without fans in an area where the NBA could mostly keep everyone to themselves, like Las Vegas, a college campus in the Midwest, or the Bahamas.
Lakers forward Jared Dudley is a fan of one of those locations in particular:
I’ve been hearing the same thing.. If and when we as a country see significant progress with this virus the VEGAS idea seems the best.. Centralized hotels to keep all teams under one roof and a gym so you don’t even have to leave the hotel https://t.co/Mz5qmJ4yxD— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 27, 2020
This wouldn’t be for a min of 2 months.. They wouldn’t do this if were not further along as a country bro.. Health before wealth https://t.co/bxdLCIL9x1— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 27, 2020
If testing becomes widely available enough that it becomes safe and ethically responsible to bring all the players, coaches and other necessary staffers together in one location and test them all frequently, Las Vegas does make some sense as a destination, as the league already has ties there with Las Vegas Summer League. And given how often various insiders have either directly reported about this or mused about it online over the weekend, it really does appear to be something the league is considering.
But beyond the question of if it will be safe enough to responsibly do this — a big if — logistically, this would still be a big ask for the league. They’d have to figure out how to really, truly keep everyone involved with these games isolated, likely even from their families, for months.
And even if players are willing to commit to that to save the season, what would the league do if a player tested positive again despite their best efforts? Shut everything down a second time? There would be a lot of questions like that for the league to answer before it could make this happen (and consider if it was really worth it, given how contagious we know this pandemic is). This seems like the best idea floated so far, but there are still hurdles to clear.
It would well and truly suck if this NBA season didn’t get to finish given all the incredible storylines that are yet to get satisfactory conclusions, and how realistic a chance this particular Lakers team had to go far. But the league has to make sure to put everyone’s safety first, no matter what they do, so whether they head to a neutral location to finish things up or try to compete in team’s training facilities later in the summer, don’t expect basketball to be back anytime soon.