Silver: NBA strives for flexibility within ‘new normal’
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is on a quest for normalcy.
The definition of normal remains subject to change during the coronavirus pandemic.
With daily testing and hurdles in specific regions and cities to clear, the NBA is marching forward with a plan to play the 2020 season using lessons learned from the unique summer in Orlando.
“We’ve got to be really careful,” Silver said Wednesday in an NBA TV interview prior to the 2020 NBA Draft from Bristol, Conn. “We learned a lot in Orlando. There’s no doubt we will learn a lot as we start playing.”
The NBA conducted the annual draft after multiple date changes on Wednesday, and NBA free agency begins Friday. The 2020 season, which ended barely five weeks ago in the bubble environment, is starting over in many ways.
“It’s unusual for (rookies). Most of them didn’t have a complete (2020) season, NCAA Tournament. They’re finding their own new normal,” Silver said of the 2020 draft class. “This isn’t unique to the NBA. It’s what people are dealing with every industry around the world. And it’s what we’re doing.”
For Silver, hitting reset and maintaining as much flexibility to make changes for health-related reasons was paramount in starting the 2020-21 season. Players initially didn’t want to start the new season in December, but agreed to the pre-Christmas start date to help restore league earnings. Projections, Silver said, indicated a potential loss of more than $1 billion had the NBA waited until late January to begin the regular season.
“It was very important. We wanted to find a way to play, just like we found a way to play last summer,” Silver said. “The thought here was, sitting down with the players and their union, nobody thought we were going to spend months in a (bubble). … Ultimately, we concluded that’s the best we could do under the circumstances.
“What we now know about this virus and the circumstances, there is a way to do it safely.”
The NBA introduced a split 72-game schedule with a play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff spots in each conference.
“The idea to split the schedule in two was a result of the enormous uncertainty we’re all living in,” Silver said.
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