OKC Thunder: Myriad of details require clarification for NBA return

JANUARY 22: Dennis Schröder #17 of the OKC Thunder in control of the ball against Terrence Ross #8 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
JANUARY 22: Dennis Schröder #17 of the OKC Thunder in control of the ball against Terrence Ross #8 of the Orlando Magic (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /

As the OKC Thunder prepare to finish the season in Orlando key items still require clarification.

On Thursday, 29 of 30 NBA teams voted to approve the 22 team format in Orlando including the OKC Thunder. Today, the National Basketball Players Association will vote on the plan. Players are expected to ratify the format as most have indicated a desire to get back on the hardwood.

Immediately following the Board of Governors vote several key dates and details were announced via the League and key scribes. Thunderous Intentions provided those dates and the ensuing updates.

As per Ramona Sherburne of ESPN arriving at this point for the vote on a plan didn’t come without ample negotiations and communication between the NBA brain trust, and NBPA of which OKC Thunder captain Chris Paul is the president.

That said there remains a number of key issues to be resolved that will affect how the games roll out and the semantics of the process.

OKC Thunder awaits clarification on certain Orlando games details:

Among the main items, the OKC Thunder will undoubtedly be keen to learn is the specifics behind safety and testing. The meeting between the league and NBPA today to ratify the plan will likely touch on some of those items.

A critical piece of information will be what the association plans to do if more than one player on a team tests positive. What the league’s contingency plans are in this scenario of if multiple teams are affected will be a priority.

It’s likely to be a continuing conversation given the every changing situation with the coronavirus. While Florida has witnessed a recent rise in positive COVID-19 tests they aren’t in the same region as the Walt Disney World resort is located.

Practice and workouts:

  • Although the league has provided timelines for all players to be back will they ease up on the current restrictions being employed at practice facilities? Currently, only four players can be at the Thunder Ion at a time. Until players are allowed to scrimmage (even it will limit the ability to recapture timing and rhythm.
  •  As per above – is there a definitive timeline in place for when coaches can rejoin teams or will they be restricted until the training camp phase (June 30th)?
  • Alternatively, will assistant coaches be allowed to back into the Thunder Ion prior to June 30th?

Roster, schedule, and seeding:

  • Will teams be allowed to expand their rosters to 17 players and will two-way players automatically be eligible for postseason play?
  • An update noted the league plans to run five to six games a day but further clarity is required. Specifically, will games run back-to-back each day, and what will be the start/finish times?
  • Will final seeding be determined via win percentage given the disparity in the number of games clubs will have amassed?

Television and media coverage:

  • How will the games be covered?
    • will all games be aired on television or a split with some games on NBA League Pass?
    • will media members be on-site or handle post-game interviews virtually via zoom or other web platforms?

More from Thunderous Intentions

Miscellaneous other items:

  • Will the top four seeds in each conference be allotted some sort of benefit as a reward for winning home court seeding?
  • (no family allowed during “seeding games” How many family members will be allowed to attend when the phase switches to the playoffs?

Although this list will continue to grow the above items are the main items the OKC Thunder and opponents will require as they prepare for a return. And, perhaps the most burning question to be answered lies in the proposed December 1st start date for the 2020-21 campaign.

That doesn’t leave a ton of recuperation time for teams with deep playoff runs. Clearly, the goal is to try to allow players the ability to participate in the Toyko Olympics. Still, based on initial responses this timeline might need to be tweaked.

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