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The Lakers’ path to Orlando basketball, explained

Pending the approval of the National Basketball Players Association, we now know when the Lakers will be back for training camp, when they’ll head to Disney World and how much time they’ll have to prep for the NBA season to resume.

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Lakers All Access Practice Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA Board of Governors call on Thursday was an eventful one, with the league approving dates to resume the 2019-20 season, as well as when free agency and the draft will take place.

One of the other things taken care of on that call — pending approval from the players’ union, of course — is when training camp will begin as teams prepare to come back, when they will travel to Disney World, and more (via Shams Charania of The Athletic):

Does that seem kind of far off? There may be a few reasons for that. Let’s take a look at them as we chart the Lakers’ likely journey to playing again in Orlando.

Getting Ready To Re-Unite

26 days between the approval of this plan and when the NBA plans to start camps may seem like a lot, but it’s actually kind of a tight window considering everything that has to be done.

For one thing, not every player on the Lakers (or other NBA teams) is in the town where their team plays, and this timeline gives the NBA 26 days to gain the approval of the NBPA, and then request players head back to their cities when that is done. Once there, players will likely have to quarantine for 14 days within that 26 day window — the standard length of coronavirus travel quarantine around the world — before being able to start official training camps.

Most NBA teams (including the Lakers) have re-opened their practice facilities at this point, but solely for individual work while players are tested each time in the building and not able to be overseen by their team’s head coach. In order to start bringing everyone together for camp, they’ll likely all have to do some sort of quarantining and testing first. And that’s just the first step as they look to get back to playing.

Training Camp

If training camp begins for the Lakers on June 30, that will give them about a week to start shaking the rust off, getting their conditioning back up as a team and learning to play together again before they have to travel to Orlando. That’s actually a pretty tight window, but the reason for that is probably because the next step before games requires some time.

This part of the process will at least give the team a week to re-unite for the first time and do a bit of work in group isolation before moving on to Orlando, though.

Lakers All Access Practice
The Lakers will soon be looking to get their wind back as a team, something every organization in the NBA will have to overcome as they look to come back from this unprecedented stoppage.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re Going To Disney World

Okay, maybe not “we,” because we aren’t actually going, but the Lakers will be heading there (according to Charania’s report) on July 7. Now this is where we’re somewhat having to guess what will happen based on what we know of the best practices to prevent coronavirus spread, because the NBA has not agreed with the NBPA on their specific plan to keep players safe yet and as a result has not released details on what steps they’ll take. Those will likely come next week from commissioner Adam Silver:

Even without some of the official finer points, though, it seems likely that in order to preserve the bubble at Disney World that all teams will have to isolate again for another 14 days. It is unclear whether they will be able to practice together at this time, but that seems theoretically possible depending on the steps leading up to that. But if the league wants to be as safe as possible, this period also may see a return to just individualized workouts. Either way, that step will probably take up another two weeks before the season resumes.

After they complete that part of the plan, the Lakers would still have 10 days to work as a team to get ready for the resumption of play on July 31, give or take a few days if not every team starts the season again on the exact same day. Given that the Lakers only need to win three of their eight games in order to preserve their top seed in the Western Conference, those contests will seemingly mostly function as glorified preseason/tune-up games or training camp scrimmages, on some level.

All told, that will be about at least 17 days of working as a team as things stand right now, with the possibility of more depending on how the NBA isolates teams when they arrive in Orlando. But between all this lead time and the ability to use practice facilities again with a firm start date in mind, this plan does seemingly provide something akin to the four weeks Jared Dudley and other players said would be necessary to get back and ready for the season.

There is still a lot we don’t know about this plan, with the health protocols the league will take to keep everyone safe looming as the most significant. It’s also somewhat concerning that the league is potentially leaving less than a month between the NBA Finals and when next year’s training camps would tentatively start, but that’s more of a problem for next season than this one.

Still, this is a lot more information than we had a day ago, and a picture of what the Lakers’ path back to basketball (and some of the challenges they and other teams will face on their way there) is becoming increasingly clear. Our months-long wait is nearly over. The Lakers are almost back.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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