Nearly every day, more and more signs make it seem as though the return of the NBA season might be fairly imminent. Most of the latest optimism has centered on the league announcing that it had entered into negotiations with Disney to finish the season — suspended nearly three months ago due to the threat of coronavirus — at the Disney World parks in Orlando, Florida.
But while that is certainly reason to have hope that the Lakers and at least the rest of the playoff teams may get some closure on this campaign, there were other factors beyond where games would need to be played that are still left to be sorted out.
Overwhelming among them was whether or not the players in the league feel comfortable enough to resume the campaign. Baseball has seen its attempts to return mired in disagreements between team owners and the players in the league, but from the sound of Michele Roberts’ recent comments to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, that may not be an issue for the NBA:
In team-by-team virtual calls with players this week, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said the “overwhelming” sentiment has been that “they really want to play” and resume the 2019-20 season, most likely in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.
“It’s time. It’s time,” Roberts told ESPN. “It’s been two and a half months of, ‘What if?’ My players need some level of certainty. I think everybody does.”
For the Lakers’ part, it’s always been fairly obvious that most of the members of the best team in the Western Conference want to finish out their attempt to raise the franchise’s 17th banner. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were reportedly among a few star players on a conference call who agreed they didn’t want to cancel the season. Danny Green has been saying since early April that players want to salvage the season “by any means necessary.” Jared Dudley has been an outspoken advocate for the league’s return, and Quinn Cook has said that he’s still training “as if we got to play tomorrow.” Head coach Frank Vogel has said it would be “a huge disappointment” if the Lakers didn’t get to finish what they started.
That’s by no means a fully exhaustive list, and — as one of the league’s true title contenders — the Lakers have more motivation to return than most NBA teams, but this still is a good snapshot to show that there has been growing public sentiment that the people who would actually be going to Orlando want to make this work as long as it can be done safely.
Now, the obvious caveat here is that there are still tons of negotiations that need to take place — between the players and the league, and between the league and Disney, just to name two — before the season can resume. It’s always possible that all the momentum we’ve seen in recent weeks could be derailed at some point during that process, or by negative developments in the course of this pandemic, but this much forward progress is worth having some optimism about. The NBA really might be back soon.