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Volume 26 No. 205
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Silver Says Positive Tests Won't Cause NBA To Shut Down Restart Plan

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said under the league's restart plan in Orlando, the "belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive." Appearing Thursday on TNT's "Inside the NBA," Silver said, "We've been dealing with a group of experts plus public health authorities down in Florida and the view is if we were testing every day and we're able to trace in essence the contacts that player has had, we are able to contain that player and separate him from the team." He added, "Everyone is going to be tested, we're working through the logistics with the players." Silver noted the NBA has "learned a lot more about the virus since we shut down in March." Silver: "The data is demonstrating that for the most part -- there are exceptions -- that healthy young people are the least vulnerable." But he noted there are "people involved in this league," particularly older coaches, who are "more vulnerable, so we're going to have to work through protocols." Silver: "We have issues to work out with Disney in terms of playing in Orlando. But even when all those steps are completed, there are constant changes in terms of what we're learning about this virus" ("Inside the NBA," TNT, 6/4).

SMALLER FIELD WOULD MINIMIZE RISKS: Twenty-two teams are being invited to Orlando, and ESPN’s Mina Kimes said, “It should be acknowledged they are introducing an element of risk that they didn't have to with six teams” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 6/3). ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne noted Hornets Owner Michael Jordan "made an impassioned plea for the league to invite only the 16 teams currently in the playoff picture." He wanted to "keep as close as possible to the traditional format because of the increased risk of injury to players after such a long layoff, and the increased COVID-19 risk that comes with each additional person invited into the bubble." From his conversations with players, Silver "knew how important is was to them to have regular-season games before the playoffs began, to shake the rust off and minimize injury risk." Silver conveyed to owners "who favored the 16-team plan: If regular-season games were important to players, the league had to find a way for those games to mean something -- hence the invitation of six teams within six games of the final playoff" (ESPN.com, 6/4).

WELCOME TO THE SHOW, ZION: In DC, Ben Golliver notes the NBA's format tweak "accomplishes a few goals." It adds a "jolt of intrigue at the start of the resumed season, it allows the league to increase its television inventory, and it ensures" that star Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson "will compete" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/5). ESPN's Pablo Torre said of Silver, “He gets Zion Williamson for all of the cash that those ratings bring. He is somebody who has figured out, ‘I’m going to reverse engineer this thing and give it to fans,’ and this seems to be a pretty adroit reverse engineering” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/3). ESPN’s Bomani Jones said the make-up of the 22-team field -- 13 teams from the Western Conference, nine from the Eastern Conference -- “sounds a lot like to me, ‘Dammit, (Williamson) is going to play in this'" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN, 6/3).

IN THE FIELD, BUT DO THEY WANT TO BE? Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes cited sources as saying that the Trail Blazers were the only team to vote against the NBA's 22-team return, as the club "preferred a 20-team return-to-play format." That is "one of the reasons why they voted no to the 22-team format" (TWITTER.com, 6/4). Trail Blazers G C.J. McCollum wrote he and his teammates "play for an ownership group that actually listens to its players and has a backbone." He wrote, "We voiced what we felt was the best option and they followed our lead. I commend our front office and Jody Allen" (TWITTER.com, 6/4). ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said she was a “little confused" about the Trail Blazers' vote since they "actually could have a chance to win the play-in." The Athletic’s Frank Isola said it was “interesting that Portland is the team that doesn’t want to go” because they “could be a very dangerous team” in the playoffs ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/4).