Heat’s Andre Iguodala cites ‘mental strain,’ but NBA moving toward Dec. 22 restart

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read

As the NBA moves closer to a Dec. 22 start to the 2020-21 regular season, veteran Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala said he can appreciate player concerns about the rushed nature of such scheduling.

“You’re hearing different things from different players,” Iguodala said on ESPN. “And I think it’s responsible of us to hear from every angle and all the players' thoughts.”

Iguodala is first vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. He also was in the Disney World quarantine bubble until the Oct. 11 completion of the NBA Finals, which the Heat lost 4-2 to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“You got a couple of teams, the four teams that went to the conference finals, who went through the bubble, got through that mental strain,” Iguodala, with a Dec. 22 start leaving the Heat with a 72-day turnaround from completion of the playoffs to the start of the regular season.

Of the Lakers discussing resting players at the start of the season, Iguodala was empathetic.

“They’re champions,” he said. “They worked late into what the season was. So it would be a quick turnaround for those guys.”

While the NBA has discouraged the resting of players during the regular season, Iguodala said scheduling impacted by a pandemic is a different story.

“It’s interesting,” he said, "'it was a tactic that was used by teams earlier in the decade, of load management, and now it’s strategically being used. And there are a lot of different thoughts about that.

“But we always think of player health as the number-one factor in all the decisions that we make, and being in this COVID environment, first and foremost, and at the same time, the recovery of some of the teams that were [playing] late in the season.”

By contrast, the eight teams not invited to Disney World for the completion of the season after the four-month shutdown that began March 11 will have been idle for 286 days before a Dec. 22 start to 2020-21.

Of how a season might look, The Athletic reported Thursday that the NBA is seeking to have some arenas, where allowed by local ordinance, operating with suites at 25 to 50% capacity. The site listed a goal of limited fan capacity, with protocols including masks, social distancing and coronavirus testing.

AmericanAirlines Arena has 28 suites, according to the Heat.

In addition, The Athletic reported that courtside seating, distanced 10 to 12 feet from the boundary lines, also is being considered.

A potential timetable for a Dec. 22 start, according to The Athletic:

— Dec. 1 start of training camp.

— Three to four exhibitions per team.

— 72-game regular season. — 14 sets of back-to-back games per team.

— 25% reduction in travel (which could have teams playing consecutive games in an opposing city).

— All-Star break for six days in early March (a time frame that also could potentially be utilized for makeup games created by positive COVID-19 tests).

— Regular season ends around May 16. — Play-in tournament for seeds Nos. 7-10 in each conference.

— Playoffs begin around May 22.

— NBA Finals finish around July 22.

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