Report: NBA Discussing How to Replace Players with COVID-19 Diagnosis, Injuries

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJune 7, 2020

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 22:  Patrick McCaw #22 of the Toronto Raptors lays injured on the floor during their NBA game  against the Philadelphia 76ers at Scotiabank Arena on January 22, 2020 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
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Now that the NBA has decided upon a 22-team format for its return-to-play plan at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, the league is grappling with what to do should a player get injured and become unable to play out the season.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks report the league is working on "mechanisms that will be used to replace participants" should injuries or a positive coronavirus test keep an athlete off the court once teams report to Orlando.

The NBA and its teams are reportedly working together to present a solution to the players' union.

Per Wojnarowski and Marks:

"If COVID-19 or a serious injury strikes a team during training camps or the eight regular-season seeding games, there is expected to be no limitations on the number of players a team could sign to replace those lost, but there would be restrictions on those in the pool of eligible players, sources said.

"These are among a long list of items that the NBA and National Basketball Players Association will have to negotiate to completion in the next week, sources said. The NBA can make its recommendations to the union, but they'll together have to agree upon changes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that'll shape the NBA's 22-team truncated restart at Disney."

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Possible replacement players are likely to come from the G League or have previously signed NBA training camp contracts. Signing current free agents—such as JR Smith or international players—is not currently on the table.

Wojnarowski and Marks also said teams hope the league will reconsider its stance on prohibiting players on two-way deals to join NBA clubs in Orlando. While the NBA is looking to keep the number of people at the bubble site to a reported 1,600, clubs would like the insurance and flexibility of having reserve players available should a member of their roster become unable to play.

Another option being discussed is a requirement that players who are replaced on the roster are not permitted to return to play for the duration of the season—whether that be due to injury or a case of COVID-19.

That could create another potential dilemma for individual clubs as the league will reportedly require players to quarantine for at least one week following a positive test.

There is still time to reach a consensus on these details as the league isn't expected to tip off in Orlando until late July.