Milwaukee Bucks: Potential obstacles remain in NBA’s plan to return

MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 26: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - JANUARY 26: (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have plenty to play for, but the apathy of lesser teams could remain a notable obstacle in the way of the NBA’s plan to return.

Perhaps the most striking element of the NBA’s plan to return to action is just how long it’s going to take before games will be played.

There’s no doubt that an indoor sport such as basketball comes with an added layer of complications and a need for stringent safety protocols, the latter of which the NBA is still working on finalizing.

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But the knock-on effect of that creates what could be an even greater headache as the NBA’s return to play news cycle rumbles on and on, allowing an even greater variety of evolving responses, divergence of opinions, and twists in the tale.

Evidence of this came to the forefront on Wednesday as, on the same day the MLS announced its plan to resume play in Walt Disney World on July 8, the latest hurdle appeared between the NBA and its plan to restart on July 31.

With players having less to play for on non-contending teams, uncertainty around the NBA’s plan to return could yet impact the Milwaukee Bucks.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a faction of NBA players have been sharing their uncertainty about participating in the season upon its resumption in the campus-style environment in Orlando.

"“As players have started to come to terms with the restrictive and isolated nature of the Orlando bubble — including no visitors until after the first round of the playoffs, nearly seven weeks after the opening of mid-July training camp — there has been increased dialogue about the prudence of restarting the season for a number of players, especially those on non-championship contenders, sources said.”"

Wojnarowski relaid that there were 40 to 50 players on a conference call sharing their concerns, although there has yet to be any formal petitioning of the NBA or NBPA related to those conversations.

For the NBA’s efforts to fill out a schedule, recoup potential losses TV revenue, and ensure a competitive landscape when play resumes, the problem may well prove to be that players on teams in the position that the likes of the Washington Wizards or San Antonio Spurs find themselves in are less invested in their incredibly slim playoff hopes than those on the outside may have assumed.

The nature of the uncertainty that surrounds sports in a COVID-19 landscape means a reluctance to play is both entirely rational and understandable, while also posing a significant risk to the players’ own future earnings if league revenue ends up further damaged.

For contenders such as the Milwaukee Bucks, there’s likely less ambiguity, although that doesn’t mean there’s none, as the prize and reward of what could come from competing in Orlando speaks for itself.

The Bucks’ hopes of a championship are real, and the prospect of completing the season to crown a winner seems like something of a given in that context.

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But what if the NBA’s plan gets complicated by swathes of players on lower ranked teams looking to opt out of the league’s Walt Disney World extravaganza before it can even get started? At this point, it’s not impossible that further tweaks to the season’s format may be needed before players actually get to take to the court in a competitive setting once again.