What is the state of the NBA following Silver’s conference call?

NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks at All-Star Weekend.
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Ricky Dimon

NBA

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Earlier this week NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with any players who wanted to participate. A wide range of topics were covered, from ideas about returning to play, accompanying safety precautions, and financial issues.

“This could turn out to be the single greatest challenge of all our lives,” Silver told the players. “Until there’s a vaccine, or some cocktail preventing people from dying from the virus, we are going to be dealing with this collectively. The ultimate issue is how much risk we’re all comfortable taking.”

It’s safe to say that if and when the league does resume, there won’t be any fans in attendance. And that means teams won’t be playing games in their own stadiums.

“There’s no point in adding risk for flying all of you city to city if there’s not going to be fans,” Silver noted. “We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start.”

Las Vegas and Orlando are two of the cities being discussed right now. But planning for a resumption of the current season is obviously in very, very early stages. And it may remain in the very, very early stages for a while. Silver indicated that a decision on continuing the 2019-20 campaign does not have to be made in May or even at the start of June.

If the season resumes, the Los Angeles Lakers are +210 favorites to win the NBA title. They are +120 favorites in the Western Conference, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers (+210), Houston Rockets (+1000), and Denver Nuggets (+1200). The Milwaukee Bucks are overwhelming -225 favorites to triumph in the East.

For now, the league is focused on getting teams back in their home facilities for workouts. That was supposed to begin when the calendar turned from April to May, but the date got pushed back to Friday. When finally given the green light, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers were among the teams that took advantage of those easing restrictions. Only four players are allowed in a gym at the same time and they must remain at least 12 feet apart at all times. In Cleveland, Kevin Love found himself on the court with Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, and Ante Zizic.

“It was the longest I’ve ever gone without shooting a basketball,” Love admitted in an interview with ESPN. “So I didn’t care. I just wanted to get some shots up…. It’s just going to change the way—at least for the foreseeable future—of not only how we interact but how we live in our daily lives. So for me, was it weird? Yeah. I had (assistant coach) Dan Geriot at my basket and having him rebound and pass me the ball with a mask and gloves on. It’s just odd. It’s just weird.”

Weird but productive.

“For me it definitely was a big dopamine hit,” Love added, “and it just felt great to get in there and sweat outside of doing my workouts at home or getting on a treadmill. Going out there and having some sense of normalcy and getting on the court and actually shooting was pretty uplifting.”

At 19-46, the Cavaliers are the worst team in the Eastern Conference and second-worst in the entire NBA—better than only the Golden State Warriors. Needless to say, Cleveland has a decent shot at snagging the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. Although that is a valuable spot, there is no slam-dunk top choice like Zion Williamson in 2019. Anthony Edwards is a -120 favorite to be taken first, followed by James Wiseman (+250) and LaMelo Ball (+300).

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