A NBA Disney World plan that could allow for the completion of the 2019-20 season is in the early talking stages. The plan, which was first reported on Friday, would feature teams playing games at specific venues in Florida thanks to Disney. This could supposedly happen just a few months from now and ultimately crown an NBA champion. Will it include Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, though?
NBA Announces Possibility to Finish Season in Florida
On May 23, the NBA released a statement from NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass about being in “exploratory conversations with the Walt Disney Company” to potentially restart the season. The statement goes on say it would go forth in late July and take place at a single site. This would be a “bubble site” where the league could effectively monitor and isolate everyone involved.
That bubble site would be Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The particular location has hosted other events over the years including the Jr. NBA World Championship and AAU tournaments.
The NBA went on to say they’re consulting with various health experts and government officials to have appropriate medical protocols and protections in place. Most likely, games would take place in Florida without any fans in attendance. It’s uncertain if it would involve playing all the remaining games on the schedule or simply hosting a playoff tournament.
There are important aspects that the league, teams, and officials will need to take into consideration to be able to restart and complete the season. One of those considerations is that players will need time to get back into game shape and prepare. Teams have yet to have full practices yet, although a number of NBA teams have reopened practice facilities, with restrictions.
The biggest aspect with returning to play would be the ability to test everyone involved at the Disney “bubble site” on a regular basis. Per ESPN’s report, some individuals have suggested having enough testing supplies available for daily testing.
Others have suggested weekly testing would allow sports to return. It will depend on how available tests are not only for the NBA but also the general public.
Gregg Popovich Among at-Risk Group
Several questions immediately arise based on the San Antonio Spurs. Most importantly is the fact that head coach Gregg Popovich is the oldest coach in the league at 71. Along with Mike D’Antoni, he’s one of two head coaches over the age of 65. That’s one of the higher at-risk groups when it comes to COVID-19. That right there could rule them out from even being participants in this.
However, Spurs fans realize they have other capable coaches on the staff. That includes Hall of Famer Tim Duncan who was the head coach for at least one game while Popovich was out. It’s always possible Timmy could take over for the short time the Spurs are playing out the season in Florida. Becky Hammon is yet another capable coach that could take over. She and Tim could even discuss strategy virtually with Pop using Skype or Zoom.
Format Could Rule Out San Antonio Spurs
There’s another question about what type of format will take place in Florida. Will it be an actual completion of the remaining games on the NBA schedule or a postseason tournament? There’s been mention that the league could simply take the eight best teams from the Eastern and Western conferences to participate in the NBA playoffs at Disney.
That would rule out the San Antonio Spurs who had a record of 27-36 when the season was suspended. That said, only one team was officially eliminated from playoff contention before the season was suspended. The 15-50 Golden State Warriors had no chance of qualifying for the postseason.
The Spurs were just four games behind the No. 8 team in the West, the Memphis Grizzlies (32-33), before the season was suspended. Knowing coach Popovich and the competitive nature of many players, they’d want a shot at qualifying for a spot if that was possible, but safety is key.
So there are still red flags and plenty of questions with the NBA Disney World plan to finish the season. So far, there’s been no comment from Pop or any of the Spurs on this. Time will tell if Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will be part of the plan, or will simply stay safe at home and prepare for 2021. Visit our Spurs news page for more of the latest updates on the team.