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“Delete Eight” NBA Teams May Join Bubble for Training

The franchises left out of the NBA season restart could join the bubble as the year wanes.

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Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

22 NBA teams have joined the “bubble” in Orlando, Florida to complete the 2020 regular season and playoffs. What about the 8 remaining franchises who weren’t invited because their records precluded them from making a run at the postseason?

The league suspended games in March, 2020, taking a four-month hiatus in response to the spread of COVID-19. Games resumed officially on July 30th, but the 8 missing squads did not participate in training camps or warm-up scrimmages. The season ending in August will push back the starting date for 2020-21, meaning that when all is said and done, the lower-tier teams will not have picked up a basketball in an official setting for almost two-thirds of a year.

Sam Amick, writing for The Athletic [subscription required], suggests that bringing the “Delete 8” into the Orlando bubble for training and practice is not only a live option, but may be the only option going forward.

...with front office executives deeply concerned about the prospect of their players going eight-plus months without playing in an NBA-approved team setting, sources say NBA officials made it clear during a Wednesday call with governors that they are still trying to find a solution here. The problem, of course, is that almost every idea that has been considered comes with the kind of COVID-19 risk that isn’t seen as worthy of the hoops reward.

Except, perhaps, this one: What if those eight teams joined the rest of their colleagues inside the Walt Disney World bubble for training after the eliminated teams departed? Sources say the NBA has been exploring that possibility for quite some time now, and that the idea was raised most recently on the aforementioned governors call.

This week the NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced that none of the 343 players tested in Orlando has come back positive for COVID-19.

If the bubble continues to work, watch for much more talk of expanding the concept into the new year.