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Clippings: NBA players start opting out, Florida looks like risky bet

Things are moving fast, while NBA restart is still some time away.

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Phoenix Suns v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Over the weekend I saw a few family members I don’t live with, and while wearing masks, told them cheerfully about the impending return of sports, coming soon, can’t wait!

On Monday, events outside the NBA made me wonder if sports will happen at all in the United States for the rest of 2020.

The biggest news came from women’s professional soccer, the NWSL, where 10(!) positive and/or inconclusive coronavirus tests among the Orlando Pride left that team to announce Monday they weren’t going to participate in that league’s restart, a tournament in Utah set to begin Saturday. The league has initially vowed to continue on, but a team not having enough players to safely make it through quarantine to even play in the tournament is a huge red flag.

Normally that alone would be concerning, but consider the location of the Pride, Orlando. Yes, the same city the NBA will be coming to, the Toronto Raptors already arriving to begin their tune-up camp. Florida as a whole has hit 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and the governor doesn’t seem bothered by the surge in his state: “If you had a thousand cases under the age of 30,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “that would have (less) clinical significance than if you had 15 cases among residents of a long-term care facility.”

Honestly, the plan to move the NBA season to Florida looks pretty risky at this point. Florida was picked in part because they were one of the first states to open, but I guess the state and the NBA are counting on the surge to just burn through in a week or two, and all the young, asymptomatic infections to somehow not give it to anyone who could have complications.

On top of this, two NBA players are reportedly opting out of playing for personal reasons. Trevor Ariza is reportedly sitting out because the Blazers veteran wants to spend time with his child during a custody case, while Wizards forward Davis Bertans is reportedly skipping Orlando because he is about to become a free agent and has had two torn ACLs and doesn’t want to jeopardize signing a big deal. The Wizards have apparently given their blessing to his decision.

At this point, July 31 feels like an eternity away. We’ll see what happens on the NBA front in the meantime.

More news for Tuesday:

  • Doc Rivers on Real Sports Tuesday night: Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel is back and they are taking on sports in the era of social protests. Doc Rivers is one of the many guests who speak in the preview for the episode, which airs at 10 pm on HBO and HBO Max.
  • Harrell joins Reebok: Montrezl Harrell has joined Reebok, the player confirmed, and is helping to bring back a classic design.
  • The cracks of the bubble: If you’re looking to be informed — or drive yourself crazy thinking through the implications — this story in The Ringer does a good job looking at the weak points of the NBA’s bubble plan in Orlando.
  • The backstory of a former Benny the Bull: I thought this profile of a onetime Benny the Bull in Chicago from The Athletic was a good read. It definitely takes a special kind of person to inhabit a mascot.