The simplest things can derail what would appear to be the simplest things.
Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA über-reporter for ESPN, who breaks a majority of the league’s news, explained in a story under his byline on Friday that Las Vegas — “a bubble city of teams grinding out the playoffs within a quarantine of connected hotels and casinos” — had gained steam as a location for the league’s resumption of play.
However, veteran players had been reassured by commissioner Adam Silver’s reluctance to take the Sin City rout, because they’re worried about “younger teammates struggling with the patience required to properly fortify a bubble environment in Vegas.”
Of course they are.
Also, reports Wojnarowski, myriad issues face the league, only beginning with the possible resumption of the 2019-20 season, and Silver must bring the players along in all of them; yet, an anonymous GM was quoted, “It’s hard to lead by consensus in a crisis.”
Heck yeah, it is.
Another issue, Silver is committed to NBA players and personnel not gobbling up coronavirus tests they would not be due them were they not NBA players and personnel.
We celebrate the concept of doing the right thing mostly for its rightness, but also for its simplicity, as its tends to be the easiest path, too.
Not in the NBA.
What’s it all mean?
It means the NBA must start moving toward making real decisions, pronto.
Friday, the league pushed back the draft combine and lottery and, surely, the draft will soon be moved back, also, from its June 25 spot on the calendar.
Additionally, reports Bobby Marks, NBA front-office insider for ESPN, the league’s looking at beginning the 2020-21 season as late as December and running it through July or August.
For reference, the Thunder opened the current and suspended season on Oct. 16 and the last game of last season’s finals were played on June 13 of last year.
It’s not a slam dunk the league’s going to resume play this year simply because it's pushed back future dates geared toward next season.
Given the coronavirus, even if the 2019-20 season never resumes, the pushing back of significant offseason dates and, conceivably, the next season, is all about hoping the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and, among other things, the NBA can play its games in front of crowds again, home teams playing in their own arenas.
Yet another example of the challenge to settle on any date for anything is the league’s plan to let players back into their team’s facilities.
Originally, that date was to be May 1, two days ago. Backlash from several teams, however, pushed the date back to May 8 and still, many organizations only see it as a “target,” a list that includes Oklahoma City, which, according to general manager Sam Presti, isn’t so sure players will be allowed back by that date or not.
It’s encouraging that everything the league seems to be doing leaves open the possibility of the season resuming.
It’s discouraging that nobody who really ought to know if it’s going to happen, like the commissioner or president of the players’ association, who happens to be OKC point guard Chris Paul, are putting their name to any plans nor even the commitment to come up with one.
What we’re left with is a line from Wojnarowski’s story — “Silver has repeatedly told teams he remains determined for the season to culminate with a champion” — and one from Marks’ — “In a best-case scenario that has the NBA resuming in mid-June with the NBA Finals occurring in August …” — which must be true and on the table because ESPN pays those guys to be right.
It’s not the greatest.
Perhaps the Thunder will, in fact, open doors to players and, in a socially distant and responsible way, media might be allowed in to ask the player’s association president what he knows.
If he doesn’t know anything by then, or soon after, the amazing season he’s given the Thunder and their fans may indeed, and regrettably, be over.