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The one thing that could stop the NBA’s return, and it’s not the players

NBA

Much has been made of recent internal discussions within the NBPA regarding the NBA’s plans for a restart in Orlando, Florida.

Player concerns has received plenty of coverage, notably those voiced by Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley.

But as Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard said, the players are not explicitly stating they will not play. Rather, the NBPA is using this time to allow all voices to be heard.

In actuality, the players are not the most likely factor in preventing a return to the hardwood. Instead, the main deterrent–as it has been for the last three months–is the coronavirus pandemic.

Positive cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed in Orlando as of late. Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reported there were 316 new cases in Orange County on Thursday alone, nearly double the previous single-day high.

In fact, some experts are suggesting the state of Florida could be the next “epicenter,” per Madeline Holcombe and Ray Sanchez of CNN:

The Sunshine State has “all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission,” and risks being the “worst it has ever been,” according to projections from a model by scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
The NBA has insisted on a set of rules to keep players within the “bubble.” There will even be an anonymous hotline players can call if some of their contemporaries go off campus.
But the league is also concerned with optics. It does not appear to be the best look for the NBA to send players and coaches to an area of concern, particularly given there were already debates about whether some of the older coaches in the league would be allowed on the sideline.
While the NBA is taking precautions in assuring a safer environment for a restart, the recent spike in coronavirus cases could squash any hope for a conclusion to the 2019-20 season.

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