Like kids peeking out a window wondering if it’s OK to come out and play, the NBA appears to be seeking a way to resume its season, which was disrupted when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus March 11.
Since then, the Timberwolves have tried their best to bond what was mostly a new team amid trying circumstances. Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother, Jacqueline, died from the virus, and Malik Beasley also lost a relative.
The Wolves have tried to support their players as best they can virtually both from a physical (designing workouts, providing meals) and mental standpoint (offering counseling).
Over the past few weeks the NBA seems to have made at least some movement toward a return.
The Wolves will also be one of multiple teams participating in a coronavirus antibody study run by the Mayo Clinic looking at how prevalent the disease is among the league.
The latest: Optimism has increased in the league office for a resumption of the season, with the NBA looking at one or two “bubble” sites in Las Vegas and Orlando. Negotiations between the league and players likely will determine what compensation would look like.
What’s been said: The Wolves haven’t made any official statements on their desire to return. Some teams in locations that have relaxed stay-at-home measures have reopened practice facilities for individual workouts, but the Wolves haven’t yet in compliance with Gov. Tim Walz’s order. The Wolves are working with local health officials on the best path moving forward, a spokesperson said.
Where is everyone? Most Wolves players remained in Minnesota at the outset of the pandemic.
Biggest obstacles: Testing. The NBA received criticism shortly after postponing the season because multiple teams were testing players while testing nationwide was in short supply. To resume play, the league would need to frequently test asymptomatic players, coaches and staff members. That’s thousands of tests. The league doesn’t want to procure those tests unless the nationwide demand is met.
The league also would need an action plan for when/if players test positive. According to ESPN, Commissioner Adam Silver said on a recent call with the Board of Governors that players and teams would have to get comfortable with the idea that someone may test positive, or else the league shouldn’t go down the road of resuming the season.
Reasons for optimism: There’s only about a month’s worth of regular-season games to plan for, and the league seems OK delaying the start of next season to December or January in order to finish this year.
The bottom line: The odds seem better than they were a month ago that an NBA champion will be crowned for 2019-20. If testing capacity nationwide increases, that will be a given.