G League to start modified season next month in Walt Disney World bubble

The NBA G League is headed to the bubble.

The league announced on Friday that it will kick off a modified season at Walt Disney World next month, similar to how the NBA finished last season inside the bubble in Florida amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We worked closely with our teams, the Basketball Players Union, and public health experts to develop a structure that allows our teams to gather at a single site and safely play,” G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “We are thrilled to get back to basketball and to fulfill our mission as a critical resource for the NBA in developing players, coaches, referees, athletic trainers and front-office staff.”

Seventeen G League teams will take part in the season, along with the G League Ignite — the new team for elite players eligible for the draft. The teams will compete in a shortened regular season, and the top eight teams will advance to a single-elimination playoff.

Several teams, however, have opted out of the season entirely over concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. NBA teams whose G League affiliate is not participating, the G League announced, can still assign roster players and two-way players as normal.

The G League canceled last season completely after suspending operations in March, when the NBA did, due to the coronavirus. The league has not yet announced a schedule for the bubble, however The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the season will kick off on Feb. 8 and conclude by March 9.

Eleven NBA teams will not have their affiliates competing, including the Wizards, Hawks, Pistons, Celtics, Suns, Heat, Lakers, Kings, Mavericks, Bulls and Bucks.

Though the bubble worked for the NBA last fall, it’s unclear if it can work again — especially with the coronavirus raging worse now than ever before. The country recorded more than 280,000 new cases on Thursday alone, according to The New York Times, and more than 4,100 deaths, an all-time high.

The NBA bubble court at Walt Disney World
The G League is headed into the bubble. (AP/Tim Reynolds)

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