LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As NBA teams prepare to leave for Orlando, Florida, in the coming days, organizations have received directives on the process for transporting players unable to travel on the team charters, according to a league memo acquired by ESPN.
If a player misses a scheduled coronavirus test in the two days prior to the team's departure date -- or has "extenuating circumstances" that have been disclosed to the league -- he must arrange his own travel to join his team as the league restarts its season. The player has the option of flying on a charter flight at the player's expense, traveling by car, or flying commercial, the memo said. If a player flies privately or drives, he will have to have two negative test results before resuming basketball activities. If he flies commercially, the player must have three consecutive negative test results, according to the memo.
With the first teams scheduled to arrive in Orlando on Tuesday, it is unlikely that players who have tested positive in the past week will be able to fly with their teams. According to the league's health and safety guidelines, any player who has contracted COVID-19 must quarantine and test negative twice before being medically cleared to make the trip. Or, if he misses a test in the two days prior to the team's flight, he will have to return three consecutive negative tests before traveling.
The training camps at Walt Disney World Resort will be the first time that most players will play sanctioned 5-on-5 basketball with their teammates since the league shut down on March 11 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Players who have to stay back in their home markets to recover from COVID-19 could miss part of their team's scheduled training camp and that vital preparation time. Having less time to prepare could leave players more susceptible to injury.
The 22 teams participating in the restart are scheduled to arrive in Orlando in staggered phases. The first group of teams is scheduled to enter the "bubble" on Tuesday, the second on Wednesday and the third on Thursday. After completing a two-day quarantine, the first group is expected to start training camps on Thursday.
Ahead of the regular-season games that are slated to begin on July 30, each team is also playing three scrimmages against teams from the other conference or one that is in the same conference and an unlikely first-round playoff opponent.
If a player has not been getting tested regularly over the past several weeks, fulfilling the NBA's requirements, he is required to have six consecutive negative test results upon arrival before participating.