Nets Will Play In Orlando Despite Depleted Roster

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  • Nets will send team to Orlando despite being severely shorthanded
  • Dinwiddie, Jordan tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week
  • Jordan, Chandler will not play; Dinwiddie undecided

It’s July 1, which means American team sports will return this month. Major League Soccer will be the first men’s team sport to resume play with its “MLS Is Back” Tournament, which is slated to get underway at the Disney World resort on July 7.

Shortly thereafter, Major League Baseball (July 23 or 24) and the NBA (July 30) will follow suit. While baseball is going bubble-free, the NBA will also be resuming its season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

Two Nets Test Positive

The NBA is trying to keep its players and all necessary personnel as safe as possible while trying to conclude the 2019-20 season, which has been on hold since March 11. The safety measures include testing every player for COVID-19 once a day, as well as requiring everyone on the “campus” to wear a mask when not engaging in athletic activity.

Before the teams descend on Orlando in a little over a week, the 22 clubs set to resume play are gathering in their local markets to begin a mini-training camp. The league began its first round of testing last week, with 16 of the 302 players testing positive. On Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver said a fairly large outbreak of the virus would be needed in order for the league to consider canceling operations.

One team, the Brooklyn Nets, has been hit particularly hard. Brooklyn will already be without superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Orlando due to injuries. Center Nicolas Claxton was also ruled out for the restart after undergoing shoulder surgery. Over the weekend, veteran swingman Wilson Chandler opted out. While the Nets are one of the teams expected to qualify for the playoffs, the team is going to be seriously shorthanded once the season resumes.

Dinwiddie Iffy About Playing

Earlier this week, guard Spencer Dinwiddie and center DeAndre Jordan both confirmed that they had tested positive for the coronavirus. Jordan has already ruled himself out of participating in the Orlando bubble, while Dinwiddie is still deciding what to do.

However, the Nets are still going to send their team to Florida to compete. In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, general manager Sean Marks said, “We have a job to do. We have to bring a team to Orlando. We will bring a team to Orlando. We will go down there and we will compete. That’s our jobs here.”

When asked about whether Dinwiddie will suit up, Marks added, “That would be up in the air. Look, I would hope these guys decide to go, but again, I hope they decide that’s best for them and their health and family. So, if they decide to go to Orlando, we know we will be taking the best possible care of them.”

Any player that tests positive for the virus will have to test negative twice before being allowed to resume operations with teammates. Jordan, Dinwiddie, and Chandler were all starters for the Nets at the time the season was stopped in March, so Brooklyn will look quite a bit different the next time they hit the court.

No Other Nets Expected To Opt Out

Marks said that he has “no reason to believe” any other players will decide against playing before the team is scheduled to depart for Florida next week. If Dinwiddie joins the others on the sidelines, Brooklyn’s offense will likely revolve around youngster Caris LeVert. The third-year guard is averaging a career-high 17.7 points per game this season, and he was averaging a robust 27.4 points per game in March before the season was put on hold.

The absences of Jordan and Claxton will also lead to additional playing time for big man Jarrett Allen, who has essentially split minutes with Jordan at center this season. Brooklyn will have the ability to sign replacement players for any player that decides against traveling to Orlando. Every team going to Disney World will have to submit its list of travelers to the league by the end of Wednesday. As of now, Dinwiddie is on the Nets’ list.

Any player that tests positive before traveling to Florida must self isolate and be symptom-free before testing negative twice. If that player winds up getting medically cleared and subsequently decides against playing, they would likely forfeit pay.

If Jordan is on the traveling party but doesn’t play, he could lose as much as $1.2 million. However, he would be absolved of that forfeiture if the Nets sign a replacement player instead. Durant and Irving will not join the team in Orlando.

The Nets are scheduled to play their first game on July 31 against the Magic. Brooklyn is currently just a half-game ahead of Orlando for the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

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