The potential NBA return in Orlando seems to be the closest any of the four major professional sports are getting to playing amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the continued concerns associated with cases spiking in states including Florida may shut that down.
At least one team has already arrived in Orlando, but two NBA players, including a former Spurs player, have chosen not to go. That leaves the San Antonio Spurs and 21 other teams having to make a big decision soon.
Several San Antonio Spurs Have Reasons Not to Attend NBA Return
It’s no secret that Gregg Popovich is one of the most respected and knowledgable head coaches the game has seen. He’s also the oldest coach in the league at 71 years old. Along with 69-year-old Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, he’s part of an at-risk age group when it comes to coronavirus infection leading to serious health issues.
That could mean Florida is a no go for Pop, who may love the challenge of coaching a Spurs team into the playoffs for a 22nd-straight time, but knows his health comes first. Assistants such as Tim Duncan and Becky Hammon should be aptly suited to coach whoever shows up for the Spurs in Orlando.
That won’t include LaMarcus Aldridge who had season-ending surgery. There could be a few other Spurs players including Patty Mills and Rudy Gay who may decide it’s not worth the risk to play in Orlando either. Both are veterans with Mills at age 31 and Gay, 33 years old.
As Air Alamo’s Dylan Carter suggests, Gay may opt to focus on his free agency future with just a year left on his contract and a history of injuries throughout his career. Meanwhile, Mills would fall under the status of playing outside of his country of Australia. Carter contends that the veteran Spurs guard Mills may choose to go back to his home country to stay safe with his family, allowing another player to develop more in his place.
Former Spurs Player Davis Bertans Won’t Participate
Something that could influence Mills’ and others’ decisions could be the recent news of two players deciding they won’t be going to Orlando.
It was revealed that Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza has opted to sit out due to a parenting situation. Ariza has a one-month vision period with his 12-year-old son whom he’d been involved in a custody case over.
The other player opting out is former San Antonio Spurs player Davis Bertans. He spent the first three years of his career with the team. Bertans had averages of 6.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and one assist in 16 minutes per game.
He now plays on the Washington Wizards. They’re the ninth team from the Eastern Conference scheduled to participate due to proximity to the current eighth seed. Like the Spurs, they’re a longshot to make the playoffs.
On Monday, NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski explained why Bertans is sitting out. Woj called it a preventative measure since Bertans will be entering free agency.
That could certainly influence Spurs players in similar situations with a deadline of Wednesday, June 24 looming. Meanwhile, the NBA appears to be pushing forward with a return to play out the 2019-20 season. The Toronto Raptors have already arrived in Orlando in preparation for a title defense.
Soon San Antonio Spurs fans will know what sort of team and coaching staff is making the trip if any at all. Visit our Spurs news page for more news about the players and team.