Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver offered caution on Thursday, saying that the league’s announcement of a 22-team return format is only step one in a list of work to get done to resume the season.
The NBA announced Thursday that it plans to bring back 22 of its 30 teams after the coronavirus paused the season on March 11. The teams will gather in a “bubble” setting at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., but the idea was merely approved by the league’s board of governors. As Sarver told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo, it’s not set in stone.
“I’ll just throw out some caution, too, I mean there’s a lot of work ahead for us to actually play in Orlando,” Sarver said. “We still have a lot of work to do with the players’ union. We have work ahead of us with our partners at Disney. We’re in constant contact with government authorities, public health officials, including the CDC. So this was step one, and as [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] told us, this is like the beginning inning of a baseball game. Step one, we agreed on what we want to do. Now we’ve got to go do it, and there’s a lot to be done.”
If and when the season does resume, one concern for players could be the shortened offseason. Playing the end of the 2019-20 NBA season so late in the calendar year will cause a squeeze late in 2020 to begin the next season, and any injuries that may occur during this season resumption format could bleed over into 2020-21.
Sarver was asked what the biggest concern is that could hinder the format being played.
“Well, again, we just decided amongst the owners what we think’s the best course,” Sarver said. “That has to be agreed upon by the players union. The logistics with Disney — you know a number of these hotels have had layoffs, have been partially closed or fully closed, and so there’s a re-startup there. And then there’s the whole health concern with COVID-19 and how that plays out and making sure that we go back to what our first priority was, which was the health and safety of the players and the staff.”
The tentative start day for play is July 31.
“I’m just saying there’s a lot of work to be done,” Sarver said.