Monday, September 14 marks the first day of the three-week offseason workout window for the NBA’s bottom eight teams. The first phase of these de facto training camps will last for one week, through next Monday. During that time, activities will continue to be limited to individual workouts, as participants begin being tested daily for the coronavirus.
After one week, once participating players have returned multiple negative COVID-19 tests – or have been quarantined if they test positive – the second phase of the camps will take place in bubble-type environments. Group workouts, including practices and intra-squad scrimmages, will be permitted during the next two weeks as coronavirus testing continues.
The eight teams not invited to Orlando – the Warriors, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Hawks, Knicks, Pistons, Bulls, and Hornets – won’t congregate at a single site like the top 22 teams did at Walt Disney World. Their “bubbles” will be created in their respective markets.
For instance, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes, the Bulls will stay at a downtown hotel and will be transported back and forth between there and the Advocate Center. The Hawks, meanwhile, are working to secure their players a hotel that has not yet opened to help avoid any outside contact, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The other clubs will make similar arrangements.
These workouts – both the individual sessions this week and the group activities beginning next week – are entirely voluntary. However, since these players have been unable to take part in organized basketball activities with teammates since March and are likely itching to get back on the court, there’s an expectation that attendance will be robust for most clubs.
Chris Kirschner of The Athletic reports, for example, that the Hawks anticipate all their core players – including Clint Capela – will take part in the camp. Jeff Teague is one of the only players not expected to participate, per Spencer, who notes that the veteran point guard is ticketed for free agency.
The Pistons are in a similar situation — James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reports that free-agent-to-be Langston Galloway isn’t expected to be in attendance, but most of the rest of the team’s players will participate.
There are some cases where players who could reach free agency in the coming months will take part in workouts. For instance, Marc Berman of The New York Post says that Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson will likely be in attendance for the Knicks. Portis has a pricey team option for 2020/21, while only $1MM of Gibson’s $9.45MM salary is guaranteed, so both vets could be let go by the team this fall.
Berman does caution that some veteran Knicks players intend to participate in individual workouts but won’t join the rest of the club in the “bubble.”
Teams that want to fill gaps on their roster and make sure they have enough players to hold intra-squad scrimmages will be able to invite players who suited up for their G League affiliates this past season. For example, Lindell Wigginton and Canyon Barry of the Iowa Wolves will join Minnesota for the team’s mini-camp at Mayo Clinic Square, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
With these offseason camps set to end on October 6 and the NBA Finals likely to wrap up shortly thereafter, the next time clubs meet for organized activities will presumably be for training camps at the start of the 2020/21 season.