The last four-plus days have been a whirlwind of NBA news. Thursday brought us reports that nearly a quarter of the players expected to participate in the league's restart in Orlando starting July 30 still had reservations about the bubble plan as a whole. Then Friday brought us the news that Kyrie Irving was the lead spokesman of a contingent of players who believe starting up the season again amidst the civil unrest in the country wasn't the right move for the league. The Brooklyn Nets guard hosted a Zoom call with 80 players to discuss the issue on Friday evening. Counter-reports followed over the weekend suggesting Kyrie certainly does not speak for everyone, including one LeBron James, who reportedly believes he can use the platform of a season restart to champion social justice.
That brings us to today. Multiple ESPN insiders have told us that while these concerns are real, most players still plan on playing. Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, Jackie MacMullan, and Jay Williams all reported as much via print or television appearance. From Wojnarowski and Shelburne's column this morning:
ESPN's reporting with players, agents, the NBPA and league officials over the weekend found no indication that the NBA's return is in jeopardy -- or that there's even a significant group of players ready to sit out. There are expected to be some players who decide not to play, sources said, but so far there's no indication that it's enough to compromise the league's plans to return, which have already been approved by the owners (29-1) and team representatives (28-0).
Wojnarowski's Get Up appearance:
And then Williams and MacMullan reporting the same on their own Get Up features:
This all lines up. There are still a lot of details to be ironed out as far as how the league is going to approach keeping its players safe during a pandemic, and Irving's desire to start a conversation about playing basketball after weeks of protests obviously resonates with many of his colleagues. But plenty of guys just want to hoop and be paid for the privilege of doing so.
Wojnarowski and Shelburne also reported the league is supposed to deliver a hefty document to the 30 teams explaining exactly what the bubble environment will entail, testing protocols, and all the other relevant issues at hand when it comes to coronavirus. That will be illuminating for both us and the players who will be subject to it; if the Players Association finds it to be acceptable, then we'll see as close to a full version of a NBA restart as one could expect during such times.