On Thursday, the NBA’s Board of Governors voted to approve a 22-team restart to the 2019-20 season, with more than two-thirds of the league heading to Orlando in the near future with an eye toward game action beginning on July 31. In addition, the league announced important information regarding the proposed off-season timeline, headlined by the scheduling of the NBA Draft Lottery (Tuesday, Aug. 25) and the 2020 NBA Draft (Thursday, Oct. 15). While that calendar announcement provides an outline on the activities of the Atlanta Hawks, the franchise will not be participating in the 22-team “bubble,” leaving the reality of an extended off-season for the organization to navigate.
On Friday, the Hawks released a dual statement from president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk and head coach Lloyd Pierce.
Yesterday the NBA announced a format to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams participating. This certainly wasn’t how we hoped our season would come to an end, and it’s fair to say that we are disappointed that our young team will not be allowed to gain more valuable time playing together by being included in the restart of the season. With that said, we understand and respect the countless difficult factors that entered into this decision for the league, and we realize that there are much more important things taking place in our community right now that deserve our attention.
We would like to recognize and thank our players for their dedication, connectedness and patience during this unprecedented time. We saw promising growth during the season and significant improvement individually and collectively from the start of the campaign through March 11. Since that time, our players, with the support of our coaching and athletic training staffs, have been diligent and professional in staying prepared, in the hopes of having the opportunity to restart their season and finish strong.
We remain engaged in finding ways for our team to compete and continue the important growth and development that was a core focus for our team this season.
Earlier in the week, Hawks owner and chairman Tony Ressler shared insight with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on his viewpoint of the league’s ultimate plan.
“I still think 30 teams is the best model,” Ressler told Shelburne. “We’re a young team, and we want to play, we want to get better. This is the way you get better is by playing more basketball. So that was clearly our view.
“But I’m going to be a supporter of the return to the NBA. I do think that’s most important. So much work has gone into this,” Ressler continued. “Adam (Silver), Mark Tatum, and Rick Buchanan, the guys that are running the league, really, in my opinion, have all spent so much time, have given it so much thought, they’re not being whimsical, they’re not being arbitrary. They just have a tough job. So my view is they’ve really tried to do the best they could for as many people. That’s all you could ask. Despite the fact that I might be disappointed in the final outcome, I am not at all disappointed in the thoughtfulness that went into it.”
Many details are still in process with regard to the NBA’s restart, including reported discussions on team gatherings that could take place for organizations left out of the 22-team bubble structure. The Hawks will not be heading to Orlando along with more than 70 percent of the NBA, though, and the franchise has now weighed in with on-the-record sentiment about its omission, with the sentiment reflecting both disappointment and understanding.