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Odds Strongly Suggest Multiple NBA All-Stars and Players Will Skip Orlando Bubble Format as COVID-19 Cases Spike

Anthony Davis at the FT line
Could Anthony Davis and other All-Stars opt out of the Orlando bubble? (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
  • With two players having announced they won’t participate in the NBA’s restart in the Orlando bubble, the odds suggest we could see more players back out
  • Wednesday is supposedly a “soft” deadline for players to decide whether they want to play or not
  • Read on for a deeper look at the odds, as well as a look at the latest on the NBA’s restart

The NBA’s planned restart in the Orlando bubble is a creative way to try and put out a basketball product amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but not everyone is so eager to head to Florida at the moment.

Portland’s Trevor Ariza and Washington’s Davis Bertans have been the first two players to withdraw from the re-start, and the odds strongly indicate that they won’t be the only ones.

In fact, the odds even suggest that we may see an All-Star decide to eschew the restart and set their sights towards the 2020-21 season.

Odds NBA Players Opt-Out of Orlando Bubble Format

Any Player to Back Out from NBA Bubble in Orlando? Odds
Yes -400
No +250
Any All-Star to Back Out from NBA Bubble in Orlando? Odds
Yes -200
No +150

Odds taken June 23rd

COVID-19 is just one of the issues that players face entering the bubble. For Ariza, being away from his family for an extended period is the issue. The Blazers forward is currently in a custody battle, and going to Orlando would prevent him from getting visitation with his 12-year-old son.

For Bertans, it comes down to future earnings. He’s set to enter free agency this offseason, and for a player with two previous ACL injuries, the risk of this altered format isn’t worth it. Bertans is coming off the best year of his career, and an injury could prevent him from getting what would likely be the biggest contract of his career.

COVID-19 Explosion in Florida

While there myriad reasons that the bubble may not be ideal for players, the issue at the heart of the restart is still COVID-19. As cases rise in the state of Florida, so does the concern of just how safe the bubble will be.

On Tuesday, according to the Herald Tribune, the state announced 3,286 new cases. 13% of the state’s tests in the last week have come back positive, and 25% of Florida’s 103,503 total cases have been confirmed in the last ten days.

Just last week, the odds were heavily on the side of a clean NBA restart. Now, as a reopened Florida sees massive spikes in COVID-19 cases, going there with the intent of avoiding the virus seems extremely counter-productive.

Who’s Likely to Back Out Next?

It should be noted that both Bertans and Ariza play for teams not currently seeded in the top eight of their respective conferences. Washington is 5.5 games out of the eighth seed in the East, and Portland is 3.5 games out of the eighth spot in the West.

In the short eight-game regular season, playing their way into a playoff spot is possible, but not guaranteed.

When predicting who else may elect to sit out, a look at the field of teams outside of playoff contention is the first place to go. That’s a group that includes, along with Portland and Washington, the Suns, Pelicans, Spurs, and Kings.

The name that jumps to mind is Zion Williamson. New Orleans was so careful with him at the start of the season, keeping him off the floor until late-January due to concerns surrounding a knee injury. If they were so conservative about a standard NBA regular season, throwing him into uncharted waters may not be a decision they make.

Social Issues at the Forefront

The other major concern for players is the potential of a minimized influence on the ongoing social justice movement. As the country sees countless protests against racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, no league’s players and coaches have been more involved than the NBA.

For players that have been present at these marches, such as Bradley Beal, the bubble presents a conundrum. Basketball is a major priority and the game they’ve dedicated their lives too, but there is also an important moment in American history happening right now, and playing a game seems frivolous to some players.

Should the league take steps to prominently highlight these issues, as the English Premier League has done,  perhaps there will be less hesitance to return to action. However, the NBA has made it clear that there will be no punishment for players who choose to abstain from the bubble.

Any Reason to Go “No”?

The plus-money on “no” is enticing, but it’s not a safe bet. With 22 teams, and 15 players per roster, that’s a field of 330 athletes. Minus Bertans and Ariza, there are still 328 NBA players that must make a decision on whether or not they’ll enter the bubble.

In such a large group, with so many players that have voiced concerns about COVID-19, social justice, and being away from family for an extended period of time, it’s hard to not see at least one player pull out.

The All-Star prop is closer, but with so many concerns present, it’s still likely that we see more prominent players decide to forgo the completion of the 2019-20 season in the bubble.

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