Disney World Emerging As Front Runner For NBA Return
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Disney World Resorts are emerging as the front runner to host the return of the NBA. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Orlando property has “gained significant seriousness among other cities such as Las Vegas.”
The site was first mentioned as a potential landing spot for the league in late April. The NBA has several potential host cities looking to host the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Among the viable options, Vegas, Orlando, and recently Houston have emerged as targets.
Each location would act as a “bubble city” to host the games. In the bubble scenario, the league’s players and essential employees would finish the season in an environment separated from outside contact. The league hopes to return to action while limiting further exposure to COVID-19.
The NBA has Orlando/Disney World as a clear frontrunner for return-to-play site for resuming 2019-20 season, sources tell me and @sam_amick. Orlando has gained significant seriousness among other cites such as Las Vegas.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2020
The Disney World Resort property has 12 basketball courts available to the NBA, including two that are capable of hosting NBA broadcasts.
Sitting entirely on private property, Orlando may have a logistical advantage over Las Vegas. The resort can more easily prevent exposure from the public by blocking off entire sections of the property. Also, Disney is the parent company of ESPN which holds a long-standing history with the NBA.
Yahoo Sports Keith Smith confirmed the report.
“We are confident we’ll be hosting the NBA in some fashion,” Smith tweeted from a Disney source. “It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case.”
Sources from Walt Disney World tell me: "We are confident we'll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case."
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 20, 2020
Returning To Practice
Teams may soon be able to recall players who traveled out of state during the league’s hiatus. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, teams are expecting new guidelines as soon as June 1.
The move would signal a strong shift towards the season returning. A majority of the league has opened practice facilities to its players. However, strong restrictions remain in place to protect the players.
Reporting with @ZachLowe_NBA: NBA teams are expecting the league office will issue guidelines around June 1 that will allow franchises to start recalling players who’ve left their markets to return as a first step toward a formal ramp-up for the season’s resumption.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2020
Currently, only four players are allowed in the facility at one time. Additionally, players aren’t allowed to share a hoop or basketball.
Several Jazz players are currently residing out of state. Donovan Mitchell is with his mother in New York. Jordan Clarkson has spent his time in California. Meanwhile, Mike Conley has returned to his Ohio home.
Questions Still Remain
Hurdles remain in the league’s pursuit to return to action. The league would have to reconvene in short order to allow appropriate time for its players to feel comfortable returning to the floor. The NBA has toyed with the idea of a 25-day training camp before returning to play.
Furthermore, the NBA is expected to require an enormous amount of tests before it can return. Players would require multiple tests per week. However, the league is wary of using tests that would be better served going to front-line and at-risk health workers.
Additionally, the league must determine if it will bring all 30 teams back this season to satisfy regional sports broadcast contracts. Alternatively, the league could decide to restart with just the 16 slotted playoff teams.
Regardless of the league’s decisions, Disney World emerging as a frontrunner for the NBA to return is a good sign for sports fans.
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