Report: NBA Players 'Adamant' About Playing Games Prior to Playoffs in Restart

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 29, 2020

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before the NBA All-Star basketball game Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Huh)
Nam Huh/Associated Press

As the NBA continues to weigh whether or not to resume the 2019-20 season, the consensus among players is not to rush straight into the playoffs as the NHL has agreed to do. 

During an appearance on Thursday night's SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt, ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne noted players are in agreement on having some regulation games before moving into the postseason. 

"I think the NBA players are adamant right now that they do not just want to have 16 teams and go right to the playoffs," Shelburne said. "Nobody wants to have, what is essentially going to be a four-month layoff, the last game was March 11. We're talking about late July, early August. That's four months between games. And nobody wants the first meaningful game that they play to be a playoff game. They need some time to find their groove again, get some chemistry back in their teams. And there's the injury risk."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly hopes to decide the fate of the season in early June. In the meantime, the league has begun exploratory discussions with Disney regarding the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, as a possible "bubble site" to resume games. 

It still remains unclear how many teams would be included in the restart plan or what the format and schedule would look like. 

As the league continues to plan for a potential return, even a short ramp-up period of competition may be necessary to satisfy the players who will be getting back with the teammates for the first time in months. 

Shelburne outlined what that could look like while speaking to Van Pelt. 

"You have a couple regular-season games, probably five to seven, and then you have that play-in tournament," Shelburne said."...The players do not want to come back and go straight into a playoff."

A number of factors will be considered by Silver, and as the days continue to pass, the options for stretching out the season continue to dwindle. 

On Thursday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Silver told general managers there will not be a vote on a returning to play during Friday's Board of Governors call. In the meantime, teams are preparing to recall players to their market cities to resume club activities and voluntary workouts in accordance with local and federal guidelines. 

Foreign NBA players have also been granted clearance by the United States government to return to the country, according to the New York Times' Marc Stein, regardless of travel restrictions that have been imposed.