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Memo — NBA players must decide whether to participate in Orlando by June 24
10:09 PM ET
  • Tim BontempsESPN

The National Basketball Players Association informed its body in a memo Tuesday that players have until June 24 to inform their respective teams whether they plan to participate in the NBA’s return-to-play plan at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The memo, which was obtained by ESPN, explains the league and union have agreed that any player who chooses not to play in the restarted season will have their compensation reduced by 1/92.6th for each game missed, up to a cap of 14 games. That percentage comes from the formula used if the league was to enact force majeure on the players. It also says, however, that there won’t be any further pay reductions if a player chooses not to play.

“It may not be for everyone,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said of the league’s return-to-play plan during Monday night’s “The Return of Sports” SportsCenter Special. “It will entail enormous sacrifice — of those players and for everyone involved — the coaches, the referees.”

Earlier Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley told ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski that a coalition of players led by he and Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving wants to hear the league office, ownership and sponsors detail a plan on issues of importance to the black community before the NBA’s restart in Orlando.

While players who choose not to go to Orlando will be docked pay, the memo explains how exceptions will be made for both “protected” and “excused” players. “Protected” players are those who are believed to be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Players who receive that designation from their teams can be excused and not lose any salary. “Excused” players are those who a panel of three medical experts determine to have a higher risks from severe illness from COVID-19.

Any player who wishes to be listed as an excused player must notify both his team and the union by June 25.

Once players arrive in Orlando, any player that leaves the NBA campus without prior approval will be required to go through a series of processes upon re-entry, including:

  • Enhanced testing (including deep nasal swab testing)

  • A 10-14 day self-quarantine period

  • A reduction in compensation for any game in which he is unable to play as a result of his absence from campus and/or the self-quarantine. This will fall under the same guidelines (1/92.6th for each missed game, and not to exceed 14 games) that players who choose not to go to Orlando will fall under.

Nowhere in the memo from the union does it say what the protocol will be for what happens immediately after a player tests positive.

According to the memo, teams will stay at three properties at Disney World: Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs, Grand Floridian and Yacht Club. Other highlights from the document:

  • Athletes will have access to a players-only lounge that includes TVs, arcade gaming, access to the NBA2K video game, ping pong and more

  • A 24-hour VIP concierge will be available to players. The memo says daily entertainment made available could include movie screenings and DJ sets

  • Food-wise, each team will have a dedicated Disney culinary team “to create individualized team menus, support team dietary needs, and ensure health and safety guidelines are followed,” according to the memo. Players will get “three freshly-prepared meals a day, and four meals a day on Game days,” the memo says

  • Team-sponsored outings like privatized restaurants, boating, bowling, fishing and golf will available too

  • Players will have access to virtual chaplain services, yoga and meditation, virtual mind health sessions and mental health services

  • Other amenities include the availability of barbers, manicurists, pedicurists and hair braiders by appointment

The memo also laid out the six phases of participation players will go through between now and Oct. 13, the last possible day the NBA Finals could be played.

Phase 1, which goes from now through Monday, includes deadlines for players to to report back to their home cities — June 15 for players returning from overseas, and this Monday for players returning from other places in America. The one team this won’t apply to is the Toronto Raptors, who are instead going to convene at Florida Gulf Coast University in Naples, Florida. Anyone who left Toronto would have been subject to a 14-day self quarantine period before being able to begin any team activities.

Phase 2, which starts next Tuesday, will have players being tested every other day, as well as the two days prior to when the team is scheduled to leave for Orlando. The first time players are tested will be both a test for COVID-19 done via a shallow nasal swab and oral swab, and an antibody test done via a blood draw. The COVID-19 test will be repeated every other day, while the antibody test will only be repeated if a player tests positive.

During Phase 3, which goes from July 1-11, players will begin mandatory individual workouts at the team facilities. Group workouts will remain prohibited, though the number of players allowed in the facility at a time will increase to eight. This will also be when head coaches will be allowed to both participate in and watch individual workouts.

Phase 4 was split into two parts: July 7-11, which includes the teams traveling to Walt Disney World and the period afterward when they will be quarantined, and July 9-21, which covers the practice time teams will have once players and staff have completed their mandatory quarantine period.

During the first part, for a player to be allowed to travel to Orlando with the team, they must have either:

  • Not tested positive for COVID-19 since league wide testing began

  • If he tested positive previously, have satisfied the criteria for the discontinuation of quarantine

  • Not live with a household member who has recently tested positive, or exhibited symptoms associated with COVID-19

Any player who fails to meet those standards will be allowed to have arrangements made to travel to Orlando by their team once they are cleared to do so.

Once teams arrive in Orlando, players and staff will stay isolated in their rooms until they have two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart — meaning anywhere from at least 36-48 hours in their hotel room. After two negative tests, they will no longer have to quarantine.

Players will have the option to wear a “proximity alarm” that will notify them if they spend more than five seconds within six feet of another person on campus who also is wearing an alarm. This is optional for players, and possibly referees; it will be mandatory for all team and league staff members.

Players also will be allowed to wear a smart ring that could help with early detection of COVID-19 that will track their temperature, respiratory and heart rate among other measurements.

Certain Disney staff won’t be required to reside inside the NBA campus, but will be screened via symptoms and temperature check. If they exhibit symptoms, they will not be allowed to work, and are both required to wear face coverings at all times and stay away from players as much as possible.

Beginning July 7, random drug testing will resume — but only for sports-related performance-enhancing drugs and diuretics. The league won’t test for recreational substances, but players remain subject to discipline for possession or uses of prohibited recreational substances.

Once players and staff have those two negative tests, group workouts will be permitted to begin. The league will continue to conduct COVID-19 tests, along with daily temperature checks, symptom surveys and using a finger clip device to measure oxygen levels. The testing could be as often as every day, with the memo saying the frequency will be based on the results of the tests.

After players have been cleared from quarantine, they will be allowed to only socialize with players residing in the same hotel as them through July 21. The league has split the 22 teams up into three hotels, which were broken down by seeding purposes: the top four seeds in each conference will be at the Gran Destino; seeds 5-8 in each conference will be at the Grand Floridian; and the six teams currently not in a playoff spot will be at the Yacht Club. Beginning July 22 and through the end of the playoffs, players will be allowed to spend time with any other player.

During Phase 5 (July 22-29), teams will play three scrimmages against other teams in the same hotel as them. Phase 6 then covers the time teams will be playing in seeding and playoff games. Once teams are eliminated, players will be required to pass a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their scheduled departure.

Once the league has moved past the first round of the playoffs, each of the remaining eight playoff teams will be allowed to reserve anywhere from 15-17 hotel rooms for player guests, with the specific number being the same as the number of players the team brings to Orlando. Players will pay for the rooms used by guests, but not for meals and testing.

Any guest will have to do the following:

  • Self-quarantine for a week before arriving in Orlando

  • Quarantine and be tested at least every other day for three days in either the team’s home market or outside of the NBA’s campus in Orlando. Anyone who tests positive during this period won’t be allowed to enter the NBA campus.

  • Quarantine and be tested and be tested every day for four days once arriving inside the campus. Anyone who tests positive during this period must self-isolate in league-designated accommodations on the campus.

Any guest who leaves the campus won’t be allowed to return.

ESPN is owned by The Walt Disney Company.

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