Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma on NBA Restart Talks: ‘Some of Us Want to Hoop and Compete’

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 6: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 6, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The NBA plans to restart its currently suspended season on July 30 with 22 teams operating inside a bubble at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murmurs that some players aren’t in favor of the ideawhether it be for safety concerns or ongoing worldwide protests against racial injustice and police brutalityrose on Friday, though. Of note, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck and Taylor Rooks reported as many as 200 players could be on a conference call on Friday to get on the same page and discuss their stance.

Put Los Angeles Lakers forwad Kyle Kuzma in the camp of players who want to push forward, however, based off remarks he made on Twitter Friday in response to the reports:

kuz @kylekuzma

Some of us want to hoop and compete don’t get that twisted…. https://t.co/GoRnvy6rzN

Kuzma and the Lakers have a strong competitive incentive to compete: They’re a near-lock for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and are the favorites to win the NBA Finals, per Caesar’s Palace.

The former Utah star also made his feelings clear in a Monday tweet:

kuz @kylekuzma

Ready to hoop😤😤😤😤😤

Other players do not appear as onboard with the NBA’s planned return to play, with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports saying that “there is a significant number of NBA players” who are upset that not everyone was given a voice regarding the 2019-20 season restart.

Haynes also said that players have privately expressed that not all voices were heard regarding a potential return to play and provided reasons why:

“The unease about relocating to a quarantined campus during the COVID-19 pandemic was already viewed as hazardous and unnecessary to many players. But because of the George Floyd tragedy and the powerful movement for racial justice that’s sweeping the nation, some players believe it’s bad optics for a league comprised predominantly of black men to be sequestered in one location for up to three months merely to entertain the masses and ease the league’s economic burden, sources said.

Rooks reported a call with 50 players had previously occurred discussing the matter, and Beck also said there is “growing concern” regarding the NBA’s bubble plan, to the point where one agent said as many two-thirds of the game’s top 40 stars could sit out if there aren’t eased restrictions.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony is one player who have some reservation, per comments made to Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson (h/t Marc Stein of the New York Times):

“As far as actually playing … I’m still up in the air a little bit because we don’t have all the details. We don’t know a lot of information, so until we have that, it’s kind of hard to just commit to it 100 percent.”

Milwaukee Bucks point guard George Hill also said that he could “care less about basketball right now” in light of ongoing protests but that he’ll be “ready to play” when the ball is tipped, per ESPN’s Eric Woodyard.

The return would entail players enclosed in a bubble within Walt Disney World and playing eight regular-season games before starting a standard 16-team playoff in mid-August.

Family would be allowed to join the conference semifinalists by the end of August, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic. Players who left the bubble for any reason would be subject to a seven-day quarantine, per Charania.

The 22 teams currently scheduled to head to Florida include the top eight in the Eastern and Western Conference and the six teams within six games of the top eight in either the East or West.

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