Earlier this week, we passed the two-month mark since the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. In that time, there's been near-constant discussion about how to get back to playing basketball, and all sorts of plans have been developed.
Much of the conversation has focused on the big picture issues -- health, safety and logistics -- and for good reason. But one crucial group has largely been left out of the talks, at least from the public perspective: the players. Obviously, the teams and the leagues are in contact with them, but we haven't heard much about their thoughts on resuming the season and the plans being put forth.
To that point, a group of superstars that included LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry and union president Chris Paul recently held a private conference call to talk about the situation. Unsurprisingly, they were in agreement that they want to figure out a way to finish the season, according to a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo.
Toward the end of the call discussing the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, all parties were in agreement to take the court with proper safety measures once the league is given the green light to commence, sources said.
The group's decision is expected to hold significant weight in the decision-making process for the rest of the league's players when it's time to deliberate on whether to restart the season.
On that note, union representatives from the National Basketball Players Association have begun texting players asking them about their thoughts on the season resuming, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The question at least some players received was, "Michele [Roberts] asked for me to reach out and ask the simple confidential question: "Do you want the season to start again?"
The National Basketball Players Association started polling its membership Tuesday about how individuals stand on a return to play this season, sources told ESPN.
NBPA regional representatives -- including Tim McCormick and Frank Brickowski -- were among the union officials polling players with a yes or no question on their current desire to return to play this season amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to sources.
Those officials told players that their individual responses and identities would be kept confidential within the NBPA, sources said.
Wojnarowski reported on Twitter that while responses were supposed to be confidential, some teams received the question on a group text involving every player. Judging by that note, it's clear this hasn't been a perfect roll-out, nor is it any sort of binding documentation.
Regardless of the potential errors in conducting the poll, the main goal was to gauge players' receptiveness towards finishing the season, and the sense is that they want to do that, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
And that was important because after all, the players are the ones, along with coaches and staffers, who are going to have to face the risk of possibly getting the virus, or deal with spending time away from their family. Team owners and league executives aren't going to be facing that danger.
Along with the stars involved in that private conference call, at least one player has made it publicly clear he's eager to finish the season. Los Angeles Lakers veteran Jared Dudley took to Twitter to express his thoughts, stressing safety must come first.
Safety obviously 1st! No where will be as safe as the NBA compound site they determine but, I Don’t think players know the effects of NOT playing does too next year. This is bigger then My team isnt in the playoffs so who cares! No playoffs, no tv money, NEW CBA next year! https://t.co/jFb1dH89E4— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) May 12, 2020
There are all sorts of factors at play here, and from a competitiveness standpoint, there's little doubt that players want to get back on the court as soon as possible. But with the health crisis still very real, it will be interesting to see what the players are willing to accept to make it happen.
Silver told players that he couldn't guarantee their safety, according to Haynes.
In a conference call with players on Friday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that he couldn't guarantee the safety of the players if play resumed in a city where they would be quarantined, but assured them the league would do everything in its power to make the safest conditions possible, sources said.
That didn't sit well with some players, sources said, with a vaccine not expected to be available for a year or two.
It's very easy to envision a situation where competing interests start to emerge, even among the players. Stars, those chasing a championship and those near the end of their career may have more incentive to take the risk for both personal and monetary gain.
On the other hand, bench players and youngsters who aren't so secure, both financially and with their place in the league, may wisely decide they don't want to gamble their future. Will the union listen to those players as much as they will the superstars?
It's going to be fascinating to see how this plays out, but hopefully the league and the players put health and safety over financial interests.