Los Angeles Lakers forward Jared Dudley is often a forgotten man on the team’s deep roster of talent. The 14-year NBA veteran is averaging just 1.5 points, in just under eight minutes a game this season, both lows for his career. However, Dudley is a vocal leader in the locker room, and considered part of […]Lakers’ Jared Dudley Shares Details on NBA Return Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic — NBC Los Angeles
The 14-year NBA veteran is averaging just 1.5 points, in just under eight minutes a game this season, both lows for his career. However, Dudley is a vocal leader in the locker room, and considered part of the glue that holds the team together.
On Wednesday, during a video conference call with reporters, Dudley provided detailed insight on the NBA’s plan to resume the season, as well as an insider’s perspective on how players are practicing now that the training facilities have reopened.
Dudley was a teammate of National Basketball Player’s Association President Chris Paul on the Clippers during the 2013-14 season, and said he’s spoken frequently to his former teammate during the current suspension of the NBA season.
Dudley added that he’s spoken to many players and executives during the stay-at-home orders in order to gain knowledge and perspective on the NBA’s plan to resume the season. It is with that knowledge that Dudley was able to share detailed information with reporters on Wednesday.
Dudley began by piggy-backing off of an earlier report by The Athletic, stating that Disney World in Orlando, Florida has become the frontrunner as the host site for the return of the NBA season.
Both Orlando and Las Vegas have been mentioned before, but Dudley added that Houston, and even Hawaii have been named as serious contenders to host the NBA recently, but said he believes it’s going to be Orlando when it’s all said and done.
“Orlando makes perfect sense because of Disney,” said Dudley. Disney owns ABC and ESPN, both broadcast partners with the NBA.
NBC LA reached out to sources with knowledge of the discussions, and they confirmed that Disney World is the frontrunner and that a deal is “close, if not imminent.” During the conference call with Dudley, he said that players would need at least six weeks of training and practicing to ramp up before the season resumes, and mentioned a start date of mid-June for training camp 2.0 to begin, and mid-July for the season to resume. Multiple sources confirmed both of those dates and scenarios as well.
Dudley said that he’s 90 percent confident that the NBA season will resume, and stated that the only reason he’s not 100 percent is because the coronavirus itself could change any current plans and scenarios rather quickly.
Dudley also cleared up a misconception that has been rumored when it comes to the one-site “bubble” scenario. Regardless of which site hosts the NBA, the original assumption would be that players would have to leave their families and quarantine at one location for multiple months in order to be able to resume play.
Dudley said that’s not true. Not only did he say players would be allowed to bring their families to Disney World in Orlando, he added that players would be able to come and go as they please.
“You will be allowed to leave,” he said. “Now just because you leave, if we’re going to give you that leeway, if you come back with coronavirus, you can’t play.”
Dudley agreed that there would be added pressure to not leave and return with the virus, thereby letting down teammates and the organization. Dudley even joked that, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the teams two superstars would be “wrapped in bubble wrap.”
Dudley said players would be tested every day, and that restaurants, pools, and even a golf course would be open during the season just for the players, staff, and their families.
When asked if he thought all 30 teams would have to return to Orlando to finish the season, or if the league would jump straight to the playoffs, with or without play-in games, Dudley said he’s heard rumors of all those scenarios, but ultimately believed the league would go straight to the playoffs with each round being the traditional seven-game series.
Dudley believes “older” teams like the Lakers, Rockets, and Bucks will be hurt most by the long layoff, but agreed that most of the players want to finish the season and crown a champion.
“The bench will be more crucial than ever,” Dudley said because of the long layoff.
When asked if he was concerned that the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers, would have no home court advantage in the one-site scenario he said confidently, “Our advantage is we have LeBron and AD, and you guys don’t.”
Finally, Dudley shared his personal experience with going to the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo recently. The facility officially opened last Saturday on a limited basis.
“It’s similar to a hospital,” he said. “You pull up and get your fever checked. Then they ask you some questions. It takes about two minutes, it’s really fast. They make you slip off your shoes before you come in the building. You have to have a mask everywhere except the court. On the court, the assistant coach wears a mask and gloves and has to keep his distance.”
Dudley knows it’s different and strange to practice under those conditions, but said he’s been texting and talking to his teammates, encouraging them to return to the practice facility and get ready for the return of basketball.