The NBA’s return to Orlando solves the league’s most pressing issues. It will generate revenue, give desperate fans something to watch and produce a 2020 NBA champion, but the league’s decision to bring only 22 teams to Disney has created a series of smaller problems that must now be addressed. Chief among them: What are the eight teams that won’t be making the trip to Central Florida do for the next six months?
Considering the three months that they’ve already spent sidelined, waiting until next season would force those teams to wait nine months before playing competitive basketball.
But according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they are considering a number of potential alternatives. They include:
A series of workouts for two weeks in July, which would theoretically take place concurrently with the training camps teams in Orlando will hold. Some of these workouts would be voluntary while others would be mandatory. Regional minicamps that would include joint practices between teams in close geographic proximity. These would then conclude with a series of approximately three televised games. Organized team activities in September. The ability to start next season’s training camp seven to 10 days before the teams in Orlando.
A typical offseason for lottery teams goes from mid-April through mid-October, or approximately six months. The last NBA game was played on March 11, and the current projection for the start of next season is Dec. 1. That date is expected to be pushed back even further. If it goes into January, those teams could be off for more than 10 months. Teams are worried about the potential rust that would be created upon returning next season, as well as the damage such a long unstructured period could do on their development.
“Nine months is too long without organized basketball,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “We just can’t risk that. I think the league has heard that loud and clear. We are pushing to remain competitive. That’s what our players want. We were desperate to have something that helps us to stay competitive.”
No solution appears imminent at the moment. The league’s priority, for obvious reasons, will be maximizing the Disney return, but if it is at all safely possible for one of these solutions to give the NBA’s bottom eight teams a few games between now and next season, the league would likely welcome it.