According to a report published on The Ringer by Kevin O’Connor, the Pelicans likely will not have enough time to make up the 3.5 games that separates them from the Memphis Grizzlies in the current Western Conference standings.
Publicly, the NBA has been vague about its plans to restart after suspending the season in March.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) May 8, 2020
Privately, however, Adam Silver and his team in the league office have been making contingency plans for every imaginable scenario.
New report on @ringer: https://t.co/NbViqW0IWe
In fact, they may have already played their last game of the 2019-20 regular season according to a source who spoke to O’Connor.
“The first game when we get back will probably be a playoff game,” said a league source with knowledge of NBA plans for the resumption games.
There lays the possibility the Pelicans could earn their way into the postseason with a play-in tournament involving all of the teams still mathematically alive for the playoffs; however, that possibility appears a non-viable solution too.
“A postseason play-in tournament has been weighed but is considered highly unlikely, according to multiple league sources.”
As I wrote on Saturday, the odds were always stacked against the Pelicans to finish out the remaining regular season schedule due to circumstance. Even if the NBA found a viable “bubble” in which it could house every player, executive, coach and family member, there still existed a lack of equipment, resources, medical facilities for injuries. Plus, from Ramona Shelburne’s article on ESPN this morning, not all players seem to be on board with the idea of living in a bubble and all the guidelines that it could entail.
But let’s be honest, fingers can be pointed elsewhere which damned this venture from the beginning. The United States simply did not respond quickly enough to the virus which would have paved the way for a more conducive environment.
The NBA could buy or get as many rapid test kits as it needs to attempt to restart without fans, sources said. But politically, that’s a nonstarter right now.
Putting thousands into direct danger within a bubble site only to save same profits for the league and television networks is a risk not worth taking, and I’m far from the only one who feels this way.
“Our players have an itch to get back on the court, but the organization prefers they not return and risk injury when we are already looking ahead to next season,” a source told O’Connor.
It’s an interesting argument. In order to ensure the highest degree of safety, the players and a bubble-like environment would have to be closely monitored. However, that scenario would likely infringe on individual freedom and probably make quite a few uncomfortable.
“Are we going to arm guards around the hotel?” Michele Roberts said to Ramona Shelburne. “That sounds like incarceration to me.”
The good news is, we can always look back on the 2019-20 season with some fond memories — Pelicans ending on a high note and saw enough to be excited about from their young core. Now, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson may have as much as six months to grow their games to the next level and will be plenty ready to take the 2020-21 season by storm.
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