Report: Group of High-Profile NBA Players Disagrees with Kyrie Irving on Restart

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles the ball against Washington Wizards forward Troy Brown Jr. (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, in Washington. The Wizards won 113-107. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been a “driving force” in calls with NBA players regarding reservations about resuming the currently suspended 2019-20 season, per Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.

There appears to be a contingent of star players in disagreement with that notion, however, with Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports providing a report Friday:

“A faction of high-profile players are in disagreement with Irving’s assertions, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

“Several high-profile players have been communicating with others en masse about the financial and practical implications if they don’t play, sources said.

“If there are no more games, the owners can and will likely activate the force majeure clause and re-open the collective bargaining agreement, and the players would have little leverage with the owners because of how the economy has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported earlier Friday that many players were upset that their voices weren’t heard in the lead-in to the NBA and National Basketball Players Association’s decision to restart the campaign in late July at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida:

“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.”

Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks reported that a Zoom call with 50 players took place on Monday “discussing what they can do to take a stand.” She also reported that another call with around 150 players was set for Friday “to solidify what that stand is and stress this only works if they unify.” 

Irving’s Nets are one of 22 NBA teams scheduled to take part in the finish of the NBA’s suspended season, which has been on hold since March 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The six-time All-Star is out for the season following shoulder surgery in March but had “suggested” on a NBPA call that he would be heading to Florida to support the Nets despite being inactive, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, the current NBA schedule calls for teams to begin play July 30 and go through an eight-game regular-season finish.

A play-in tournament would occur August 15 and 16 if necessary. A 16-team postseason over the course of two months would begin August 17, with Game 7 of the NBA Finals scheduled for October 12.

The 22 teams in line to take part include the 16 currently in the playoff positions and the six within six games of the eighth and final playoff spot in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

The sticking point may be the NBA’s plan to ensure an enclosed bubble environment with the players in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Per Charania, a player who chooses to leave the bubble may be subject to a quarantine of seven days upon his return, meaning the potential of missed games.

Furthermore, family members would not be allowed to join players until late August, when the conference semifinals are slated to begin.

Fourteen of the 22 teams resuming play would be home for the offseason at that point, although players inside the bubble who advanced to the second round would have to wait over a month to see their families.

As of now, the plan is to still go forward with resuming play.

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