The NBA’s Plan for COVID

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The NBA is nearly in the same position it found itself two years ago. COVID seems to have broken through whatever protection protocols are in place and the NBA’s plan for COVID needs to adjust to handle the changing variants. Omicron has likely been a huge hurdle for teams to handle. It spreads at a faster rate and seems to be infecting the vaccinated at a higher rate than it should. According to reports by Shams Charania, the NBA is now requiring hardship signings for teams impacted by COVID.

The NBA’s Fight with COVID

The struggle with COVID this season seemed to be contained at first. A small number of teams we’re dealing with outbreaks, and maybe a player or two on other teams were out as well. Outages due to health and safety protocol quickly spread across the league. The list of star players currently out has grown too long to list here in full. Some notables include the Brooklyn Nets Big Three,  Trae Young, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach Lavine, and many more.

Weighing Both Sides

From the league’s perspective, the NBA season should be in full swing by now. With Christmas Day games quickly approaching, a pause to the action could lose millions in revenue for the league. Christmas Day revenue likely influenced the league’s decision to force hardship signings rather than take a safer route. In addition, it would be difficult to recover from another schedule setback. Pausing the season the first time caused a shortened season and offseason, which led to player fatigue and injuries. Backfilling rosters with G-Leaguers can keep future NBA seasons on schedule.

From a player health and safety perspective. It might be best to put the season on hold. The league could use the time to update the conditions for health and safety protocol, tighten travel restrictions, and give all the players currently out due to health and safety the chance to return to action. As an added benefit, a holiday break would give players the chance to spend time with their families; time they would likely appreciate.

The Possibilites

Looking at the bright side of the league’s decision, backfilling rosters provides tons of opportunities for G-Leauge talents to make imprints on NBA teams. We’ve already seen Isaiah Thomas join the Los Angeles Lakers from the G-League and make an immediate impact on the floor. We may see other familiar names return to the NBA, like Michael Beasley or Lance Stephenson. We also could get the chance to see new names come into the NBA and prove the validity of the G-Leauge as a stepping stone to the NBA.

The caveat here is transitioning players safely. When the Chicago Bulls attempted to bring up Stanley Johnson from the G-League, he was placed in protocol before he even got the chance to play. As long as there is a process put in place to safely transition players from one league to another without falling into the protocol, the league should be able to continue the season effectively.

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