How isolated the NBA and its personnel will remain while in their self-created “bubble” at Disney World is one of the biggest remaining details for the league and National Basketball Players Association to sort out as the Lakers and the other 21 teams still in the playoff hunt get ready to resume the 2019-20 season on July 31 in Orlando.
This is all still a matter of some debate. Initially the whole league isolating there and staying within the confines of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex seemed to be the whole point of this plan, but then Lakers forward Jared Dudley threw that into some doubt with comments that players would be able to come and go as they pleased. But then the NBA’s tentative guidelines for Orlando leaked, and included the bullet point that “players and family must stay inside the bubble.”
Still, Lakers center JaVale McGee made comments suggesting that the idea of members of the league being unable to leave the bubble was “slightly concerning,” a concern seemingly shared by other players. And with the NBPA still negotiating out the finer details of this restart plan with the NBA, it’s remained unclear how the exact, collectively bargained restrictions would shake out.
But with the caveat that we still won’t know for certain until the exact agreement becomes official, it would seem the league and its players are leaning towards the side of taking as many precautions as possible to keep the virus outside of the bubble (and keeping everyone inside it as a result):
Sources: Expected protocol if an NBA player leaves the Orlando bubble: Quarantined for no less than 10 days and must have two negative coronavirus tests.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 8, 2020
This would seem to be the fairest way to ensure that the NBA isn’t infringing on anyone’s rights, while also protecting those who want to be cautious. As an employer, the NBA shouldn’t have the right to tell its employees that they can or can’t leave a geographical area — and who knows what kind of legal action they would have been courting by doing so — but this way they can make it clear to anyone involved in this plan that they can leave as much as they want, but that if they do so they will have to stay away from their teams for 10 days or more in order to protect everyone else that the NBA also has an obligation to look out for the health of.
Especially given the fact that older coaches clearly want to remain involved and not hit with additional restrictions during this bubble portion of the schedule, this really seems to be a good middle ground that at least shows NBPA leadership that no, this isn’t “like incarceration,” while still keeping the most vulnerable as safe as possible under the circumstances.
We still don’t know if other NBA staffers will be subject to the same rules, but it seems likely that at least the former will be, despite Charania’s report only specifying players. And keeping as many people inside the bubble in Florida is important when considering that the surrounding area is spiking in coronavirus cases, but even those measures won’t make this plan foolproof:
One way this matters for the NBA - Disney support workers will not be living inside NBA bubble. And if they’re in a county that’s spiking, there’s increased risk of a presymptomatic person bringing the virus inside. https://t.co/PTFLuNVmmb— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) June 9, 2020
Still, the more precautions the NBA can take with all this in mind, the better.
In addition to all that news, we also learned a few more details about the protocol and precautions within the bubble on Monday:
Sources: All NBA team members arriving in Orlando will be tested and quarantined in their rooms for 36 hours. If a player tests positive, they must quarantine for at least 10 days and have two negative tests before rejoining their team.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 8, 2020
More on @ringer: https://t.co/1xt188AIT3
Sources: The NBA and NBPA have agreed to conduct performance-enhancing drug testing during resumed 2019-20 season in Orlando — but tests for recreational drugs will remain suspended.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 8, 2020
The latter is a reversal on an earlier report, and unfortunately means that Danny Green won’t be able to dunk, and Lakers fans won’t be able to photoshop Alex Caruso, without the two of them being forced to get drug tested.
And most unfortunate of all, it also means we won’t get this version of LeBron:
LeBron getting to play for 6 weeks near Miami and no drug testing? 16-0 pic.twitter.com/NMkF5D9c0Z— Daman Rangoola (@damanr) June 6, 2020
Still, these all seem to be logical choices as the NBA and players’ union continue to build out their health and safety protocol, and surely we’ll get more details once everything becomes official in the days to come. But for now, all indications seem to be that this is moving in the direction of being as safe as possible for everyone, and that the NBA is going to take every precaution it can to keep its employees involved in the restart protected and healthy as they try to finish out the 2019-20 season.