A growing number of players are opting out of the Orlando Bubble proposed by the NBA. The driving forces for this drastic step are safety concerns and the restrictive nature of the bubble. It has left Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard unsure about committing to the team. Coaches of several teams are trying to protect their main players by giving them fewer minutes on the court like Zion Williamson of the Pelicans.
Lakers starting point guard Avery Bradley and Clippers 6th man of the year Lou Williams have reportedly withdrawn themselves from the Bubble. In addition, Buddy Heild, Nikola Jokic, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, and several others have tested positive for COVID-19. Having been tested positive makes it impossible for Nikola Jokic, the star player of Denver Nuggets to return to the United States. And there have been rumors going around about NBA trying their best to have Zion Williamson and the Pelicans in the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans were on a roll right before COVID-19 put an end to the regular season in March. With Zion Williamson’s return, it looked like Pelicans were making a legitimate case for Playoffs. However, the Hiatus has given Zion Williamson enough time to heal from the ankle injury he suffered in the summer league. But is coach Alvin Gentry ready to put him out there just yet?
“This is just going to be a glorified summer league”- Woj when asked if Gentry will risk playing Zion Williamson
The way these teams start out and the opportunity they may have moving forward into playoffs will dictate the minutes that each player will get on the court. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry when asked about Zion’s minutes vaguely suggested that he is not willing to risk players’ health for short term benefits.
“We’re not gonna go down and play guys for 40 minutes that doesn’t make sense. We’ll try to do what’s right as far as being competitive giving us an opportunity to win but obviously we’re not going to risk anything as far as long time future with players that’s gonna be integral part of our franchise.”
Another Pelicans executive lauded Zion’s comeback before league’s suspension but couldn’t give any conclusive details on his return to the bubble.
I can tell you he is handling the ball awfully well and his shooting looks great. In terms of his preparedness and fitness for basketball I can’t give you any indication of that at all. I really have no idea.
Making the playoffs is not as great a priority for teams right now. This 8-game seeding series is more like a glorified summer league for teams opined Adrian Wojnarowski. However, New Orleans Pelicans have been very motivated to go in and qualify for the playoffs which will dictate Zion’s minutes on the court. If they manage to qualify for playoffs their potential first-round matchup with Los Angeles Lakers will be disappointing.