Since the very beginning of the NBA’s hiatus, Atlanta Hawks leadership was clear in a desire to participate in league-sanctioned activities this summer. While the No. 1 preference was a golden ticket to Orlando as part of the league’s “bubble” restart, that wasn’t in the cards and, when reporting emerged in early July that the Hawks could be part of a gathering alongside other non-bubble teams, Sarah Spencer of the AJC cited a source saying that the Hawks “would be supportive of their guys getting the opportunity to play.”
Following a few quiet weeks, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer shed light on July 24, reporting on the progress of the discussions. That reporting included a proposal featuring “a week of practice at individual teams’ home facilities, starting the second week of August,” followed by the potential for “two weeks of group workouts” featuring multiple teams.
With that as the backdrop, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic poured cold water on Tuesday afternoon, reporting a “growing belief” among non-bubble franchises that “a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen.” From there, the pairing also reports “pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts.”
It is crucial to note that nothing is confirmed at this juncture, but The Athletic quotes an NBA general manager as saying “there’s nothing happening” with regard to discussions and the same league executive believes it is a “huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.” In addition, the NBPA reportedly “remains concerned about the safety concerns that would come with creating another location for the other eight teams to compete.”
At present, non-bubble teams like the Hawks are only permitted to do individual work at team facilities. While the potential of a bubble site seems to be fading, the Players Association is reportedly “open to the idea of having in-market bubbles for individual team minicamps.”
In an overall sense, challenges with COVID-19 are at the root of everything, but there is also the potential for competitive challenges facing Atlanta. While the Hawks and other non-bubble teams may only miss eight games when compared to some other franchises, practice time is potentially invaluable. In short, the reality of an eight-month (or longer) layoff is looming, and Atlanta could be particularly affected as a team heavily reliant on the development of young players.
If nothing else, the clock is ticking on any notion of off-season activities, with the NBA’s widely publicized target date of Nov. 10 for training camp in advance of the 2020-21 season.