By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
If the NBA has a conclusion to their 2019-20 season, it’s likely to come in Las Vegas, according to multiple reports.
The idea, which has lingered since the league went on its indefinite hiatus back on Mar. 11 after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, was first brought to light by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.
Quarantining in one location is the only solution, and Vegas is the only city the NBA is currently giving any kind of serious consideration, per an NBA source. But even that faces enormous hurdles. Thousands of players and staffers would descend on Las Vegas for an event like this. Thousands of supports staff at hotels and arenas would be needed to make it work. Not to mention broadcasters and media. Testing would have to advance significantly in the coming months. Rapid tests, like the one now being produced by Abbott Laboratories, would have to be widely available. An event that could be squeezed into a few weeks would require tens of thousands of tests.
There’s a lot to unpack there. First, it’s certainly something that Vegas is the only city that the league is looking at right now. That would indicate that hopes of playoff games in native cities — even with empty arenas — are too much of a risk at this point. And even with the headache of thousands of people converging into one centralized location as mentioned by Mannix, it’s almost easier to have everybody in that spot versus traveling to various cities, many of which are still under stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. But secondly, the testing issue seems massive, both in volume and speed. That may be a massive social issue of sorts, too, as you’ve heard from people upset with the fact that tests have been so readily available for NBA teams (and celebrities) while the rest of the country’s citizens are seemingly left hopelessly waiting for tests of their own.
It’s worth pointing out that Mannix isn’t on an island with this report, either, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had something similar earlier this week, noting that everything is on the table when it comes to the NBA and Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas has been a destination that has been discussed, built around the idea of literally perhaps using a casino, playing games in potentially a ballroom with courts,” Wojnarowski said. “There’s lots of different scenarios.”
The Rockets’ Austin Rivers, meanwhile, touched on these plans during an Instagram live session earlier this week, noting that the league likes Vegas because of its versatility in terms of gyms available, and that everybody wants to get back to work by any means necessary given the dollars that are on the line should the league officially cancel its season and postseason.
Rivers also noted that the league would shorten its first two rounds, going from what would normally be a best-of-seven format down to a best-of-three format, as they would obviously find themselves operating on limited time.
But they’re all mere ideas at this point in time, as Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was forthright when asked about a timeline for a return to game action during his appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” earlier this week.
“I have no idea,” Cuban admitted. “I mean, the only thing I know is that we’re going to put safety first and we’re not going to take any chances. We’re not going to do anything that risks the health of our players, our fans, our staff, the whole organization. So right now, I really don’t have anything new to say.”