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NBA Acknowledges Exploratory Talks With Disney About Restarting Season In Orlando

In this handout image provided by Walt Disney Studios, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade prepares to take a three-point shot as he is guarded by Mickey Mouse July 11, 2010 during a short 3-on-3 game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Wade joined the Disney character and members of two Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams that are currently competing in a national championship tournament for girls 16-and-under. The Disney World visit ended a week which saw Wade re-sign with the Miami Heat, where he will be joined next season by newly signed stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh. (Photo by Todd Anderson / Disney via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA acknowledged that the league “is engaged in exploratory conversations with Walt Disney Company” about restarting the 2019-20 season at the company’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

The site was first mentioned as a potential landing spot for the league in late April.

The NBA was reportedly looking into as multiple cities as potential hosts for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Among those options were Las Vegas, Orlando, and Houston.

Recently, Orlando gained more traction for the league’s restart than the other locations.

The league spoke publicly on the matter on Saturday, May 23.

“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” said NBA spokesman Mike Bass. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”

KSL Sports’ Utah Jazz Insider Ben Anderson recently wrote that the restart 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 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.

Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell chimed in on the news of Disney as the NBA’s potential restart location.

“I started my basketball career hooping here,” Mitchell tweeted. “Man life has really come full circle.”

The Jazzman played in AAU Nationals at Disney World.

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.

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.