Though a second bubble for the eight teams who weren’t invited to participate at Walt Disney World isn’t happening, the NBA and the players association have finally figured out a plan for those left behind.
Teams not playing in the season restart can begin holding voluntary group workouts in their home markets next month, the NBA and NBPA announced on Tuesday night.
The in-market bubbles will take part in two phases from Sept. 14-Oct. 6. The first phase will continue voluntary individual workouts at team facilities, something that’s currently allowed now, but players, coaches and staff involved will be tested daily for COVID-19.
The second phase, starting a week later, is when group work can begin. Daily coronavirus testing will continue through the end of the phase, though everyone participating must remain at the “campus” — meaning the team’s practice facility and private living accommodations that will be provided.
Six teams from the Eastern Conference weren’t invited to Florida: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. Just two teams from the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves, were not included.
The NBA Finals are scheduled to end no later than Oct. 13, one week after the in-market bubbles wrap up.
Reversing course after doubt
Earlier this month, there was a “growing belief” among the eight teams that a secondary bubble or in-market minicamps wasn’t going to happen — which would have resulted in players on those teams not playing any real basketball from when the season stopped in mid-March until the next season starts. That’s not expected to happen until some point in December, either, which could have put those players at a significant disadvantage.
Initially, teams had hoped to meet in one city for a bubble to play together, however, talks about getting that going were incredibly inconsistent, per The Athletic. Pistons coach Dwane Casey was against that move earlier this summer, however, and wanted to be able to work with just his team instead.
Team minicamps, he said, just made more sense.
“We’d rather do that than go to the bubble, because unlike those teams in Orlando, we wouldn’t be playing for the same reason,” he said in July. “The reason we want these minicamps is to get our team together, to have that camaraderie, to improve and enjoy some competition … We can’t let these guys sit around from March 11 to December without something. It’s going to hurt their careers.”
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