- Idea for secondary campus inviting eight “Delete Eight” teams to play gaining steam
- Site would likely be located in Chicago
- Stringent safety protocols would be required for plan to proceed
A couple of weeks ago, ESPN reported that members of the eight teams not invited to resume the NBA season later this month in Orlando had been in discussions with the league regarding a “bubble” of their own. While 22 teams will be playing real basketball games by the end of July, the other eight are potentially facing an unprecedented layoff.
Because coaches and front offices of those eight teams are concerned the lengthy hiatus could negatively impact the development of their young players and put those teams at a competitive disadvantage, some have been lobbying commissioner Adam Silver to create a second campus at which those teams could hold training camps and, potentially, play live games at some point this summer.
While the idea seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky at first, there may actually be real momentum for a secondary NBA campus. ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reported Thursday that the league is in “deep discussions” on that second bubble that would allow teams to stage mini-camps and games. The league is reportedly targeting Chicago as its secondary site, with games potentially starting up at some point in September.
Safety Measures Would Be In Place
While Silver seems open to the idea, nothing will happen unless it gets approval from the Players’ Association. Michele Roberts, the union leader, has insisted that any second bubble location would have to take the same safety measures as the Walt Disney World site. Silver agrees with Roberts on that.
The NBA is closing in on signing off on a second “bubble” in Chicago for the eight teams that were not invited to play in Orlando, enabling mini-training camps and subsequent games against other clubs with a target date of September, sources tell ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 2, 2020
One unidentified front office executive told MacMullan, “Michele has made it clear that’s how it’s going to be. Adam is going along with it. I understand their point, but it’s frustrating for us that we can’t loosen restrictions a bit so we can get some work done in our own gyms.”
Seven of the eight teams that won’t be in Orlando participated in a conference call with the league on Thursday. The only team absent from the call was the New York Knicks, because they were instead reportedly interviewing candidates to fill their head coaching position. The list of candidates includes Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, and Spurs assistant Will Hardy. The league wants to be sure that teams committed to the secondary bubble will decide to send players if the plan is approved.
ESPN says the schedule would be a Summer League-style format, meaning games staggered throughout the day with different start times. In addition to the Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Charlotte Hornets would be eligible to send players to the secondary campus.
Coaches May Prefer Mini-Camps
While there seems to be some momentum for that second site, some are hoping for a less formal solution. Pistons coach Dwane Casey said that he took an informal poll of his fellow coaches, and the results showed that most would prefer to simply hold training camps in their own home cities instead. Casey said, “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.”
Casey added, “The reason we want these mini-camps is to get our team together, to have that camaraderie, to improve and enjoy some competition. We feel we can do that safely in our own environment. We can’t let these guys sit around from March 11 to December without something. It’s going to hurt their careers. It’s too long of a layoff.”
Veterans Unlikely To Play
It obviously remains to be seen whether teams would send all of their players to this secondary bubble. The Warriors, for example, have a number of veterans that may feel no reason to play relatively meaningless games in the middle of the summer. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, who combined to play just five games before the season was stopped, would likely prefer to simply wait until the next season gets underway in the winter.
Young players may be more open to the idea. Atlanta’s Trae Young voiced his opinion on Twitter on Thursday evening:
Ahhhh ?…… just let me hoop !! https://t.co/kjw0uGvvMH
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) July 2, 2020
While seeing full rosters at the secondary Chicago site would be unlikely, NBA bettors would still likely relish the opportunity to see more live basketball action on TV later this summer.