The NBA's bubble experiment inside Disney World has gone as well as anyone could have hoped so far. Everyone inside has remained coronavirus-free, and the basketball has been excellent. But while the 22 teams down in Florida are having a good time, it's been a more confusing few months for the eight teams not invited.
Figuring out a plan for them remains a dilemma for the league. Earlier this summer, there were talks about forming a second bubble in Chicago, but NBA executives now doubt that it will happen, according to a report from The Athletic.
There is growing belief among the NBA's eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.
"There's nothing happening," one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. "It's a shame. It's a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind."
With the season nearly complete when play was stopped back in March, it simply didn't make sense to bring all 30 teams to Disney World. Bringing extra teams with nothing to play for would have only heightened the COVID-19 risk for everyone. In fact, there's many who believe inviting 22 teams was too many in the first place.
In any case, while sending the other eight teams home made sense from a health and safety perspective, it was a big blow to them from the basketball side of things. It's now been nearly five months since they've played any games, or even been able to hold practices. And with training camps for next season not scheduled to start until November, that lack of experience is a big competitive disadvantage, especially for teams with a lot of young players.
Unfortunately, the country has not been able to get control of the coronavirus, and the risks of forming a second bubble are just not worth the reward at this time. This is a frustrating and confusing situation for these teams, but as much of a detriment as this down time might be to team building and development, the primary goal is still keeping everyone healthy.
There has been talk of creating mini bubbles in teams' markets, which would at least allow them to go five-on-five with each other, and hold real practices, per The Athletic. That's a creative idea, and would be much easier to execute safely than a second bubble. For now, however, teams will have to remain patient, and continue holding individual workouts.