Milwaukee Bucks: Teams may be permitted to sign replacement players

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 26: (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 26: (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare to return to action, the NBA may be set to allow replacement signings to cover injuries or COVID-19 cases.

When the Milwaukee Bucks return to action at the end of July, they’ll find themselves in an NBA setting that’s filled with uncertainty.

There won’t be the home comforts of Fiserv Forum, or more generally anything familiar about the situation the Bucks find themselves in as they try to complete their season.

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Perhaps the most notable change to their usual routine in that regard may be the disrupted flow of the season, and what that ultimately means for the health and fitness of the players.

One of the obvious concerns about starting up the season after such a long lay-off comes in the shape of the potential for increased injuries. Even with teams set to undergo mini-training camps before heading to Walt Disney World, and with the intention for potential scrimmages or exhibition games before the resumption of official contests, this situation is far from the kind that teams are accustomed to in the offseason.

Unlike an offseason and preseason leading into the start of a new season, many players around the league have been unable to work out and practice for large spells of time in recent months. That certainly doesn’t replicate an offseason scenario where players often find themselves doubling down and working even harder on their games in the gym.

Perhaps even more notable is the fact that unlike what can be the comparatively gentle pace of the opening games of the season, in this scenario teams will be jumping back into the intensity of the business end of the season in terms of the race for the playoffs and the prospect of looming postseason series.

Of course, that’s not to mention the biggest threat of all in terms of potentially catching COVID-19 during the ongoing global pandemic.

Taking all of these considerations into account, the NBA will need to have plans in place to cover teams if players suddenly become unavailable in these particularly strange times.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN, the league is reportedly starting to work through ideas for how procedures could be put in place to combat the potential loss of players to injury or COVID-19 when the season picks back up.

"“Sources told ESPN that the league and teams are already discussing how teams will be able to utilize players on two-way contracts, a conversation revolving around safety, practicality and competition that will assuredly be a part of the ramp-up to restarting the season at Disney World in July.If COVID-19 or a serious injury strikes a team during training camps or the eight regular-season seeding games, there are expected to be no limitations on the number of players a team could sign to replace those lost, but there would be restrictions on those in the pool of eligible players, sources said.”"

ESPN’s report outlines that teams may be allowed to sign replacement players up until the conclusion of the regular season, but those signings would need to come from a pool of players who were either contracted in the NBA or the G League during the current season.

For a replacement signing to occur, that would likely trigger the replaced player to be ineligible for the remainder of the season. That doesn’t seem to be the most practical of contingencies for COVID-19, given that a team who could have a two-month playoff run would seem unlikely to rule out a player who tests positive and could return after a two-week quarantine period.

The question of two-way players remains very much up in the air as the NBA looks to limit the number of people who would be required on-site in Orlando, but that may ultimately need to be a concession made by the league in terms of their presence and postseason eligibility from a practical point of view.

For the Bucks, the security of having Frank Mason III and Cameron Reynolds at their disposal would certainly be a welcome boost in what could be a strange and eventful couple of months.

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With plenty of details still needed to be negotiated, expect more details to emerge on how rosters will be managed in Orlando over the next week or so.