By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Speaking with players on a Friday conference call, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is preparing the league for what he considers to be "the single greatest challenge of our lives."
But it's a challenge that, if successful, will bring basketball out of its pause and result in a finish to the 2019-20 NBA season.
The big takeaways from Silver's return-to-play plan: The NBA will not make a decision on the fate of this season before June. And if the NBA does return, it will not be with fans in the stands (and this may bleed over into next season), which leads Silver to believe that traveling wouldn't make much sense for the parties involved.
"There's no point in adding risk for flying all of you city to city if there's not going to be fans," Silver said on the call. "We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start."
That plan would likely lead the NBA to Las Vegas (a rumor that's followed the league since they went on pause) and Orlando. Vegas has always made sense because of its abundance of hotels, restaurants, and NBA-ready courts, as it's where the NBA holds their Summer League action. The idea of making Orlando the second 'bubble city' for the NBA comes with a focus on Disney World, which is certainly a large enough complex to house players and staffs, and features countless dining options for those staying within The House of Mouse. Disney World also has a sports complex that could provide a legitimate location for NBA action, and Disney's relationship with ESPN obviously helps with the broadcasting logistics. (And for what it's worth, Disney's Bob Iger has reportedly remained in contact with Silver throughout this pandemic.)
Both locations would require some obvious restrictions to prevent the coronavirus spreading, but the idea is that there will be stuff for the players to do besides play and hang out at their hotel, according to Silver.
And while a potential positive test seems like the deathblow for any league attempting to return, Silver's approach to that possibility seems to aim for a more logical approach than simply canceling the restart and sending everybody back home.
According to Silver, should a player test positive, they'll be removed from action, while players they were in close contact with would be repeatedly tested before they were allowed to jump back into action.
Testing in general remains a major issue for the league's bid to return, of course, and ESPN reports that the belief is that the NBA would need daily testing (15,000 tests in total) to successfully complete their season. On the call, Silver seemed confident that mass testing would be more readily available around the time of the league's projected return, but also made sure to note that the NBA is not going to take testing away from the general public just to get the league back in action.
Like any plan to restart a paused season -- and doing that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic -- there will some massive challenges facing the NBA's attempt to get back in action.
But at least Silver knows it.