Raps the first to take the plunge towards re-start of the NBA season — Toronto Sun

The games are still 51/2 weeks away but the Raptors made their first big move towards the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season. Read More

Raps the first to take the plunge towards re-start of the NBA season — Toronto Sun


Raps the first to take the plunge towards re-start of the NBA season

Mike GanterMore from Mike Ganter

Published:June 22, 2020

Updated:June 22, 2020 8:36 PM EDT

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The games are still 51/2 weeks away but the Raptors made their first big move towards the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season.

Those players and team staff who either reside in Toronto or remained here once the pandemic began boarded a flight for Fort Myers, Fla., where they will remain until the NBA’s Campus at World Disney World in Orlando opens in early July.

The Raptors are the first team to make a move but players from all over the world are returning to their teams this week where they will undergo testing for the Coronavirus in an effort to ensure that all NBA employees entering the bubble in Orlando are virus free.

As the lone team residing outside the continental United States, the Raptors had the option of doing their pre-training camp in Toronto at their own facility. That would have meant bringing over half the team back from the U.S. for a little over a week and then having them cross the border again as a group to head to Orlando. It just made sense to avoid as many border crossings and as much travel as possible.

By Wednesday any player on any of the 22 teams eventually headed for Orlando must inform their respective teams if they do not intend to take part in the re-start of the league.

Obviously there are risks involved and it will be every player’s right to make that decision. Those who choose not to partake will not be penalized although the percentage of their salary they would accrue had they agreed to go will be docked.

Already one ESPN report has confirmed that Washington’s Davis Bertans will be opting out of the games, although he is reportedly joining the team to take part in the training camp portion prior to the re-start of the league.

Bertans is a 27-year old Latvian forward and one of the best three-point shooters in the league. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the current season and should cash in nicely.

But with two previous ACL injuries on his resume, he and his agent have made the decision not to risk a somewhat rushed prep period in order to play eight games in the remaining regular season. The Wizards playoff hopes are slim as they are starting with a 51/2 game deficit to the present No. 8 seeds in the East, the Orlando Magic.

All told, Bertans would be forfeiting $520,000 by sitting out the final eight games of the season according to ESPN and then playoff money too assuming the Wizards could knock off Orlando in a play-in series again assuming they could get within four games of the Magic at the conclusion of those eight games.

The Raptors will not hold team workouts in Fort Myers, those the NBA has mandated must wait until they get on to the Orlando campus, but will continue their individual workouts at a Alico Arena, home to the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles.

Testing for the coronavirus for all Orlando-bound NBA personnel begins Tuesday and will be repeated every other day. Tuesday will also see the players and travelling party — all teams are limited to a total of 35 people to enter the Orlando bubble — subjected to antibody testing. That will only be repeated if a person tests positive for the virus.

The entire process all but accepts that there are going to be positive tests. It’s inevitable. But with testing beginning today (Tuesday), that gives a player who does initially test positive a minimum of two full weeks to recover in time to enter the bubble.

The hope and the expectation is that all the precautions the league has taken and will take once that campus opens will mitigate the risks as much as possible but the reality is no one will really know until they’re all in the bubble.

There are plenty of concerns going forward, including what had been a continually rising number of COVID-19 cases in Orange County where Orlando resides. That rise finally was halted Sunday but the numbers remain high in an area the league will be drawing workers from on a daily basis and bringing into the bubble.

For now the majority of players seem to be on board with the plan to resume, but that too could change at any moment.

What we do know is the Raptors have already taken the first step towards seeing how effective that plan can be.

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