The NBA currently is eyeing a plan that would see 22 of the league’s 30 teams return to the court to complete the 2019-20 season after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to go on hiatus two-and-a-half months ago.
But some teams apparently aren’t keen on the idea of being left out.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett “delivered an impassioned soliloquy” regarding the need to include smaller market teams in the league’s plan to resume play. He warned of “competitive and financial plights” should they be left out and noted “the potential symbolic power” behind having all 30 teams return to the court.
Ultimately, teams that are left out of the plan are considering mandatory summer training camps and possibly even regional fall leagues to help keep their players in game shape. But Bennett thinks allowing some teams to return and not others will offer an unfair advantage those returning to game action sooner than others.
“The inequities facing smaller markets had to shape the league’s thinking, Bennett suggested,” Woj and Lowe write. “Nine months without games — March to December — could have an impact on developing players, cultivating sponsorships and selling tickets in markets where franchises struggle to gain a hold.”
Following Friday’s owners meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, a number of owners (including the Philadelphia 76ers’ Josh Harris and the Phoenix Suns’ Robert Sarver) apparently “enthusiastically backed” Bennett’s proposal, per ESPN’s report. They hope to have as many teams included in the plan as possible, too.
Details of the league’s plan have yet to be revealed, though the Board of Governors is expected to vote on a final proposal Thursday.