This week many NBA players are returning to their teams, participating in voluntary practices, and getting ready for the first day of training camp on Dec. 9. They can’t, however, have any contact with coaches, physical therapists, or team doctors until an agreement between the league and players is formally ratified next week.
The regular season will begin on Christmas Day, giving coaches little time to construct their rosters. Howard Beck of the New York Times joins Bill Littlefield to discuss what the shortened season means for players and coaches.
“The biggest challenge is just getting a team together, a complete team together on the court so that they can hold training camps,” Beck says.
Many teams are concerned by the limited number of players they have under contract. The Denver Nuggets, for example, currently have a limited roster because three of their players are now on teams in China and can’t come back. And while free agency typically begins in July, this season’s free agents cannot be signed until the first day of training camp.
“The way the NBA’s arranged this with such a small window is that on Friday, Dec. 9, training camps will open, but that will also be the first day of free agency. And some teams will only have 5 or 6 guys under contract, some of them might have 7, 8, or 9,” Beck explains. “It puts everybody in a tough spot. There’s going to be teams that really can’t hold a practice on that first day of camp, while their GMs are literally in the next room, trying to sign players to fill out the roster.”
But Chicago Bulls Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is among those happy to take on that task rather than miss the entire season.
“It’ll be different. Each and every year, you’re faced with new and different challenges,” Thibodeau says. “This will be a new challenge for us, and we’ll see how quickly we can respond to it.”