Basketball is (almost) officially back, with the news that the NBA Board of Governor’s voted to approve a plan to finish out the season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Until then, the Lakers have a few next steps to take before they play again, and from the sound of things, they’re (like probably everyone else reading a Lakers blog during an unprecedented coronavirus stoppage) just excited to get going again.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN summed up the atmosphere around the team on SportsCenter, and reported some details on just how ready this team is to go (emphasis mine):
“I was just on the phone with a Lakers team source who was telling me ‘we’re all excited that the NBA figured out a conclusion to the season, because it means we have a title to play for.’ I also was in contact with a Lakers player who told me that ‘no one is going to have any problems with the stipulations that have been ratified with this vote because we get a chance to play.’ And a member of the Lakers coaching staff just texted me back ‘let’s roll, baby.’
“There is certainly a level of excitement to get this thing going, and of course there’s the idea that they’re going to have to wait five weeks or so before they play games, but they’re feeling pretty good right now.”
First of all, I am devastated that Frank Vogel was unwilling to attach his name to “let’s roll, baby,” because that would be an instantly iconic rallying cry and 1000% sounds like something he would say, so I’m choosing to believe it was him until we’re told otherwise.
Secondly, that bolded part is huge, because while everyone (including this site) has already started celebrating the season’s return, it still technically has to be approved by the National Basketball Players Association, and some details will clearly need to be ironed out and negotiated before that can happen:
NBA’s tentative Nov. 10 training camp/Dec. 1 season opener targets for 2020-21 season surfaced as a quick-turnaround to many, including NBPA executive director Michele Roberts: “I was surprised to see it,” she tells ESPN. Those dates are likely to require negotiation with union.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 4, 2020
There is also the matter of finalizing a health protocol for everyone to agree on:
For those asking: The NBA has drafted an exhaustive set of protocols to deal w/coronavirus when the league restarts. It's being finalized and needs final sign-off from the players assoc, which is expected soon.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 4, 2020
Expect more details next week.
On possibility of 65-year-old plus coaches wearing masks in games, D'Antoni and Alvin Gentry told ESPN they'd understand if every coach was required to do so, but didn't believe only they should be made to do so. Silver suggested on TNT those coaches may not be on bench at all.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2020
Alvin Gentry: “At the end of the day, they're the league. They're going to make the choice. I think it's unfair if that's what they're doing. I understand the risk that I'm taking if I do get it. But hell, I want to be with my team and do my job. That's what they hired me for."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 5, 2020
Carlisle continued: ..."healthier than someone in their 30's or 40's. The conversation should never be solely about a person's age. Adam assured me that we would work through this together to help determine what is both safe and fair for all of our coaches." https://t.co/yYDldXL69D— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 5, 2020
Still, the Lakers player in McMenamin’s report above saying that the team is willing to agree to basically whatever is big, because it likely (to some degree) captures the mindset of most of the players with something to play for heading to Orlando. It at the very least is another indication that this is unlikely to turn into a big, ugly, dragged out and public negotiation between the union and league, ala the MLB.
Beyond that, this isn’t much of a surprise, but it is encouraging. The Lakers are on a mission to get LeBron James another ring, to get Anthony Davis his first, and to raise the franchise’s NBA-high-tying 17th championship banner. They have a real chance to do it with how good they’ve been this season, so of course they’re just as excited to get the chance as all of us are to watch them go for it.