Most of the attention of the basketball world is trained on the Walt Disney World bubble, with 22 NBA teams jockeying for position in advance of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. However, the Atlanta Hawks — along with seven other teams in the league — aren’t involved in the proceedings and, as a result, consternation exists with regard to the next steps for those non-bubble franchises.
This week, Sam Amick of The Athletic first reported a “growing belief” that the idea of a second bubble site would not materialize, and even citing “pessimism” about in-market workouts. Days later, Amick then shed light on the NBA “exploring” a proposal that could send the “Delete Eight” teams to Orlando after teams are eliminated from playoff contention.
However, word emerged less than 24 hours later that the National Basketball Players Association reportedly isn’t on board with that idea and, well, that is a significant hurdle.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the NBPA has “no interest” in the rumored proposal, saying unequivocally that it is a “non-starter” at this point. Instead, Wojnarowski points to what he calls “the inevitable solution” of the NBA and the Players Association “agreeing upon voluntary workouts in the team facilities.”
The NBPA won’t agree to mandatory reporting for players on the eight teams outside of the restart but will eventually allow it on a voluntary level, sources said. Several of the teams are frustrated and angry over how far they feel they’re falling behind the teams in the bubble, and are aggressively voicing that to the league office.
On the whole, it isn’t entirely surprising that the NBPA would resist this idea and, all along, the easiest scenario to envision has been in-market workouts. The key domino, however, is that both sides must agree for anything to be mandatory and, as ESPN lays out, that does not appear to be a likely scenario at this juncture.
In the same piece from Wojnarowski, there is extensive reporting on the future of the NBA calendar, including the notion that the NBA is telling franchises to plan for a Dec. 1 start for the 2020-21 season, even while acknowledging a delay could occur. Provided that Dec. 1 start date — including an earlier date to report to training camp — remains a possibility, the non-bubble teams could also be running out of time to agree on a formal off-season workout plan.
It is plain to see the conflicting reports, leading to confusion and frustration on all sides. For the Hawks, there is an unwavering dedication to getting something done this summer but, given ESPN’s reporting on the standoff and the reality that all participation seems likely to be voluntary in nature, the dreams of seeing the full Hawks roster on the floor together before November may be slipping away.