Sources: Ousted NBA teams mull joint workouts

Fearful of significant setbacks in the development of young players over months of inactivity, several teams left out of this season’s regular-season resumption in Orlando have proposed ideas for regional mini-summer leagues, training camps and OTA’s, sources tell ESPN.

As the rest of the NBA prepares to re-start the 2019-2020 season with training camps, regular season games and playoffs beginning in July, teams left out of the 22-team format and facing a possible nine-month hiatus between games are seeking unprecedented offseason access to players, sources said.

Most of the eight teams whose season has ended — including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota and New York — are pushing to engage in joint practices as ramp-ups for regional summer leagues in August, sources said. For example, the Pistons and Cavaliers have discussed the possibility of joint practice arrangement as a prelude to a mini-pod of games, sources said.

All of these teams have been dormant — save for voluntary, social-distancing workouts in team facilities — since the NBA’s shutdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic on March 11.

Among the front office ideas presented to the NBA, sources said.

  • A combination of voluntary and mandatory workouts for two weeks in July.

  • Regional mini-campus in August that include joint practices for a period of days and approximately three televised games.

  • Organized team activities (OTA’s) for mid-September.

  • Teams want an opportunity for training camps to start 7-to-10 days earlier for the 2020-2021 season for those teams left out of Orlando.

The Orlando non-participants are pushing the NBA for televised coverage of the proposed mini-summer-league event. Without participation in the Orlando resumption, part of the hope for coverage includes some teams’ belief that organizations are losing valuable opportunities in this trying time for team communities and the country, sources said.

Owners, front office executives and coaches are expressing concern that many young, developing players will increasingly struggle with the extended separation from their franchises and the professional and personal structure offered there.

“Nine months is too long without organized basketball,” Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

“We just can’t risk that. I think the league has heard that loud and clear. We are pushing to remain competitive. That’s what our players want. We were desperate to have something that helps us to stay competitive.”

The NBA would need to negotiate these activities and camps with the National Basketball Players Association, because they fall outside of the collective bargaining agreement. The NBA and NBPA have a significant negotiating process awaiting them on a number of financial and competitive issues in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.

The league office has told these teams that they plan to make addressing the offseason needs of those teams a priority and plan to work with them on reaching solutions to their concerns, sources said.

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