NBA Approves Voluntary Participation For Return To Play
With the NBA’s plan to resume the season in Orlando, numerous players voiced out their hesitations and uncertainty. The league plans to start a 22-team “bubble” to finish the 2019-20 season and settle the winner, while the COVID-19 is still a threat and sweeping rapidly across the country.
The NBA’s player association (NBPA) reached out to the league to discuss the matters at hand. The NBA granted their invitation and set up a conference call with 40 to 50 NBA players from the association.
Under the return-to-play protocol, the NBA will not allow players to leave the bubble environment without a 10-day quarantine once the season starts. Some players did not approve of the setup, citing family situations, lockdown restrictions, and social justice matters as some of their concerns. Due to differences in opinions and preferences, the two parties finalized the plans this week.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, an NBI insider from ESPN, the league agreed to not require all players to participate in Orlando. Wojnarowski shared the information in a series of tweets:
“The NBA and NBPA are expected to agree on a provision that wouldn’t require players to restart the season, nor subject them to discipline for staying home…The players would lose a portion of salary for those games missed.”
There will be no punishments for players who wish to stay at home, including players who don’t have medical concerns. “If a player has a medical issue that might cause him to be excused from the Orlando restart, he would be allowed to undergo an independent examination process…Even if the player was told that he’s fit to play, he could still stay home without consequence,” Wojnarowski added.
The NBA will immediately find replacements for “high-risk players”, those who test positive for the coronavirus or currently suffer injuries. Players who don’t wish to play in Orlando can be replaced by a substitution player. The replaced players then become ineligible for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
The NBA is tentatively scheduled to restart the season on July 31 at the Disney World Resort. As part of the preparation, the league and the NPBA are hoping to finalize a term sheet and a health and safety protocol guide this week.