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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Orlando Magic Return to Play: NBA is set to ramp back to life this week

The NBA will slowly be kicking back to life as the Orlando Magic prepare to head to Disney to finish the season. Training intensifies this week.
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Markelle Fultz had no expectations entering the season. He leaves it as a key cog for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)

Markelle Fultz had no expectations entering the season. He leaves it as a key cog for the Orlando Magic. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)

The headlines in Central Florida have been bad.

The raw number of positive tests in the area has ballooned in the last week as people began to return to something resembling a normal life. As alarming, the rate of positive tests has gone from less than five percent to greater than 15 percent recently too.

Those are bad signs for the county.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued an executive order requiring all citizens to wear face coverings in public in hopes of conveying the seriousness of this recent spike and in hopes of slowing the sudden surge of the spread.

The only silver lining is that hospitalizations and testing are not facing pressure. As Governor Ron DeSantis pointed out in a weekend press conference, most of the cases seem to be occurring with younger residents and are asymptomatic. The state is not facing a potential crisis like it was back in March or April.

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins told the Orlando Sentinel the league is confident that it can successfully deliver a safe environment and that their protocols along with Disney’s protocols will keep everyone as free from the virus as possible.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has lauded the NBA’s plan, praising its ingenuity to try to keep players isolated from the virus. Again, as much as possible as even some of the best plans have led to inevitable infection.

There have been notable high profile failures among sports teams.

MLB shut down all of its spring training facilities this weekend after a flare-up of the disease occurred at facilities in the Tampa area and in Arizona. Colleges like LSU and Clemson have had severe outbreaks of more than 20 members of their football teams as college kids gather at parties.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a coach contract the disease, putting at least two other coaches into precautionary quarantine. The NFLPA advised its members publicly not to work out in groups for the time being.

The PGA TOUR specifically caught a case early even after one of their golfers tested negative when he arrived at the tournament site.

At least, in those instances that proved the system worked and they were largely able to catch any positive tests before there was widespread. Still, the signs were not encouraging that any system can successfully keep the virus out.

Then again, the NBA is the only one trying a campus setting or bubble idea with its players. Their testing will begin soon as the league tries to head off any potential infection before everyone arrives at Disney.

The testing protocols can work. But they are hardly foolproof.

The rising number of cases in Central Florida remain concerning then. But the league is pushing forward.

And this week will prove to be a pretty big week on that front then. The league is starting to ramp up in preparation for teams to arrive at Disney to begin training camp.

According to a league memo obtained by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, 10 coaches will be allowed in training facilities to work with players. More people will be around players at the very least.

NBA will allow up to 10 coaches in facilities starting on Tuesday as players return for ramp-up, league tells teams in a memo.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 20, 2020

Only four players will still be allowed in the team training facilities at any one time. And they will still be doing only individual workouts. Players reported to their home cities last week in preparation for this phase of the ramp-up.

That will ramp up to eight players next week before the teams arrive at Disney beginning July 9. Assumedly then, group workouts will not begin until testing has begun and everyone is confirmed negative.

Testing will also begin this week and the Toronto Raptors will head to Naples and Florida Gulf Coast University for their training camp since travel from Canada is still complicated.

Additionally, Tuesday reopens the transaction period. Teams will be able to sign new players in preparation for the remainder of the season if they have any roster spots — they can bring their two-way players into the campus setting if they would like.

Players will have until June 24 (Wednesday) to notify their team if they will not participate in the campus setting and the resumption of the season.

In other words, this is the first week where the NBA will show signs of life and actual movement toward the resumption of the season.

Training and practices will get more serious with coaches more formally involved and working with players. Teams will finalize the players who will be heading to the campus setting to finish the season.

There is even a rumor the schedule will get finalized and announced this week.

Even though the conditions on the ground in Central Florida are not looking great at the moment with the rise in coronavirus cases, the league is pushing through and preparing to play. All things are still a go to finish the season with the schedule resuming July 30.

This week, we will see some more tangible signs of the NBA kicking back to life.

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