Chris Paul, Thunder point guard and all-around good guy, spoke to local media Wednesday afternoon via teleconference and, because he’s thoughtful, said many interesting things.
Also, because he’s president of the players’ association, he made one thing quite clear.
Though he and others want back on the court, every single day NBA players are not back, preparing to finish the 2019-20 season in whatever form they might, they remain "at least three to four weeks” from playing any games that count, be it the resumption of the regular season, or a scenario in which they go straight to the postseason.
Before getting off the call, unprompted, Paul reiterated the unknown sphere from which everybody’s operating. As a result, he warned, his information is limited and there’s only so much he can say with certainty.
“This is such an interesting situation that we’re all in because, in a lot of situations, when you’re in the league, a lot of times, guys will come to you and be like, ‘Hey, what’s the league thinking about doing as far as this?’ or ‘Is this thing going to happen during the playoffs?’ or ‘Is this thing getting added to the All-Star Game?’” he said. “And it’s a matter of getting to the top, to [commissioner] Adam [Silver] to find out if it’s true. But this is a situation where no one knows. The virus is actually in complete control.”
Yet, even if Paul can’t be confident in every word he might say, he remained clear on one thing. A back-to-work plan dictated by the NBA that doesn’t give players adequate conditioning time is “not going to happen.”
“Having 450 guys in the league and being in a situation where some guys have access to weight rooms, some guys don’t, some guys have access to facilities where they can train … or they can run, you just never know … If [the league] was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got two weeks, you know, and then we can go [play],' that’s not going to happen,” he said. “That’s not going to happen.
“So whatever amount of time it is, just know that the players will have input because we’re the ones that are playing. We don’t ever want to put guys in a situation where the injury rate is higher than ever before … It varies from player to player, but I [think] it would be at least three or four weeks.”
There it is.
Three to four weeks.
Ouch, and it would appear we’re nowhere near to getting to those three or four weeks.
What about plans to play in a single location, to think way out of the box in an effort to conclude the season?
Paul didn’t come out against anything but pointed out how intricate such plans would have to be.
“All that sounds good and well, but there’s so many layers that will have to come into play for that to even happen. Or for us, as players, to even try to say we’ll do this or we’ll do that,” he said. “We would have to know exactly what that looks like as more information comes in.”
Not that Paul doesn’t want to be playing again very badly.
“I think everyone is just itching to play,” he said.
Paul has the ability to shoot at his residence, he said, yet the last time he took a shot on an actual basketball court?
That was all the way back on March 11 in the Thunder’s layup line, moments before being introduced before playing the Utah Jazz, a game that never happened, suspended as players took the court for the opening tip, the result of a positive COVID-19 test administered to Utah center Rudy Gobert.
Momentarily, and for about six weeks, Oklahoma City remains 40-24 on the season, in fifth place in the Western Conference, four games out of second place and 8 1/2 in front of eighth.
The Thunder are in all ways a playoff team, provided the playoffs get played.
“This is uncharted territory for all of us,” Paul said. “So there is no normal. This is the new normal for the time being.”
The time is beginning to feel interminable.