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NBA Players, Owners Agree to 72-Game 2020-21 Season Starting Dec. 22 – Bleacher Report

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The NBA will be back before the year is over. 

On Thursday, the National Basketball Players Association confirmed its representatives tentatively approved a 72-game season that will begin Dec. 22. 

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium first reported the sides had agreed to a deal. 

Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provided more details:

This news was widely expected. The New York TimesMarc Stein reported Wednesday that “all the momentum on the player side” pointed toward training camps on Dec. 1 ahead of the regular season three weeks later.

The Athletic’s David Aldridge also spoke to an agent who referenced the potential consequences of eschewing the tabled proposal:

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting the 2019-20 season on hold, one question among many was how it would disrupt the league’s calendar going forward. The NBA Finals didn’t conclude until Oct. 11, which made the traditional mid-to-late October start for the next year all but impossible.

One line of thinking was that the NBA would stand by until the development of a COVID vaccine allowed for fans to return to arenas in big numbers again. Some stadiums have admitted fans in other leagues, albeit well below capacity.

The drawback to that approach is that it’s unclear when a vaccine will be forthcoming.

In a September interview with Bob Costas for CNN, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that January was his “best guess” on a start date. He added that one goal would be to play games in home arenas with fans but that a number of logistical issues needed to be resolved on that front.

However, Charania reported on Oct. 23 that the NBA league office told its board of governors Dec. 22 was the new tentative target.

ESPN’s Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst provided some more context. The plan would see the regular season shortened from 82 games to 72 and the 2021 All-Star Game canceled. The report stated the NBA was “abandoning plans to delay the opening with hopes of incorporating fans back into arenas.”

Windhorst explained one reason behind Dec. 22 specifically during the Oct. 26 episode of his Hoop Collective podcast. TNT would be able to air the Los Angeles Lakers’ season opener, when their players will collect their NBA championship rings, and ESPN would have its regular slate of Christmas Day games.

Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe provided the possible financial ramifications: “The league believes that a Dec. 22 start that includes Christmas Day games on television and allows for a 72-game schedule that finishes before the Summer Olympics in mid-July is worth between $500 million and $1 billion in short- and long-term revenues to the league and players, sources said.”

Any proposal from the league needed the players’ approval, and Charania noted how a Christmas-time opening was “quicker than expected,” alluding to a level of resistance that could grow.

Lakers swingman Danny Green posited on The Ringer NBA Show that some of his teammates, including LeBron James, might choose to sit out for an extended period to allow themselves a little extra rest:

Not every team was in the same position as the Lakers and Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, though. The eight franchises that didn’t travel to the Walt Disney World Resort bubble haven’t played since March, and those that didn’t make deep postseason runs will have had a slightly more traditional offseason in terms of length.

Without a further reduction in the number of games, a December start was arguably the only alternative if the NBA wanted to revert back to its regular October-April regular-season calendar for 2021-22.

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Goff, defence leads Rams to win over Brady and Bucs – TSN

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TAMPA, Fla. — Jared Goff likes how the Los Angeles Rams are shaping up.

“We can be as good as we want to be, honestly,” the fifth-year quarterback said after Monday night’s 27-24 victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “We’ve got it all in front of us. Everything is there for us to take.”

Goff threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns, and Matt Gay kicked a 40-yard field goal with 2:36 remaining to lift the Rams back into first place in the NFC West.

Goff completed 39 of 51 passes, including short scoring throws to Robert Woods, Van Jefferson and Cam Akers. The Rams’ defence pressured Brady all night and sealed the win with rookie safety Jordan Fuller’s second interception of the six-time Super Bowl champion.

Goff threw a pair of interceptions, too, helping the Bucs remain close in the second half.

But when the Rams (7-3) needed him to stand tall, he rebounded to lead them right down the field to retake the lead after Brady tied it with his second TD pass.

“I’ve always believed in myself in any situation, but when you actually do it in a tough environment, it makes you feel good,” Goff said.

“Jared just continued to demonstrate resilience,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I love the fact he was outstanding from the jump. We had that one little mistake, and he just kept competing. What he did in terms of leading us down the field at the most important moment was critical.”

Cooper Kupp had 11 receptions for 145 yards and Woods finished with 10 catches for 130 yards. Both caught passes on the eight-play, 53-yard drive Goff led to move Los Angeles into position for Gay’s winning kick.

Brady was 26 of 48 for 216 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams sacked him once after getting to Russell Wilson six times in the previous week’s 23-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

“Disappointed. I have to do a better job,” Brady said.

Tampa Bay was limited to a touchdown and field goal in the second half, both set up by interceptions thrown by Goff.

“They did a good job preventing (the big play),” Brady said. “They play a defence that makes them tough to hit. Not impossible, but we didn’t hit any.”

Gay, a 2019 Bucs draft pick who was released after a rookie season marked by inconsistency, is the Rams’ third kicker in four weeks.

“I found out on Monday that the Rams were bringing me in,” Gay said. ”It was a quick flight so I could begin testing so I could be eligible for the game. Saturday was the first day I could be in the building. Luckily we played Monday night.”

The Bucs (7-4) fell to 1-3 in four prime-time games despite avoiding the type of slow start that hurt them in losses to the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints and nearly cost them in a narrow victory over the New York Giants.

Coach Bruce Arians adjusted the team’s preparation schedule last week, holding two practices at night — one at Raymond James Stadium.

“Everybody is disappointed. Everybody was ready to play,” Arians said. “We played a good football team. Nobody’s head is down.”

Brady answered a 10-play, 80-yard, 7-minute, 55-second drive Goff led to give the Rams a 7-0 lead with a couple of long scoring drives of his own to put the Bucs up 14-7 with a 9-yard TD pass to Mike Evans.

Goff threw first-half TD passes to Woods and Jefferson, then used Woods’ 20-yard catch and run to the Tampa Bay 20 to set up Gay’s 38-yard field goal as time expired to give Los Angeles a 17-14 lead at halftime.

With the Bucs trailing 24-17, Brady took advantage of Goff throwing his second interception of the night. Chris Godwin’s 13-yard TD catch made it 24-all, setting the stage for Goff to move the Rams downfield for the go-ahead field goal.

Fuller, a sixth-round draft pick who came off injured reserve last week, ensured Los Angeles improved to 32-0 when leading at halftime under McVay.

“I was just in my zone, and the quarterback ended up throwing it in my direction,” said Fuller, who interestingly — like Brady — was selected 199th overall in the draft.

“I was just telling myself, ‘Don’t drop it, don’t drop it, don’t drop it.’ The second one was kind of the same,” Fuller added. “I was just reading the quarterback’s eyes and was able to go out there and get it.”

HISTORIC CREW

An all-Black officiating crew worked an NFL game for the first time in league history.

Referee Jerome Boger led the crew, which also included umpire Barry Anderson, down judge Julian Mapp, line judge Carl Johnson, side judge Dale Shaw, field judge Anthony Jeffries and back judge Greg Steed.

The members of Monday night’s officiating crew have a combined 89 seasons of NFL experience and have worked six Super Bowls.

The first Black official in any major sport was Burl Toler, hired by the NFL in 1965.

INJURIES

Rams: Did not announce any injuries during the game.

Buccaneers: LG Ali Marpet missed his third consecutive game due to a concussion. … LT Donovan Smith injured his left ankle on the first offensive play of the game, but returned. … CB Jamel Dean left in the third quarter with a concussion.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host NFC West rival San Francisco next Sunday.

Buccaneers: Remain at home to host defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City on Sunday.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Raptors smoothly mix present and future in pivoting from Gasol and Ibaka to Baynes, Len – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

The Bucks, finalist Miami, Raptor-beaters Boston, a more balanced Philadelphia squad and Brooklyn should all be solid and another team or two usually are a lot better than expected, but this Raptors group should be in the mix in the East.

Of course getting back to where they want to be, contenders again for the NBA title, will take that second part of the plan paying off next off-season.

In the meantime, expect a competitive, fundamentally sound, reasonably deep Toronto Raptors team to take the court in Tampa Bay in 2020-21.

Considering who has exited, that doesn’t sound too bad.

BOOSTING THE BENCH

The Raptors should have an intriguing bench after adding centre Alex Len and guard/forward DeAndre Bembry to the mix.

Len, a 7-footer who split last season with Atlanta and Sacramento, was once highly-regarded enough to be in contention for the first pick of the 2013 draft by Cleveland. He ended up going fifth to Phoenix and has averaged eight points and 6.3 rebounds in 467 games. Injuries have been a major factor for the Ukraine native, but when he plays he has shown he can defend, rebound, score inside and step out with mixed success.

He’ll backup fellow newcomer Aron Baynes, with Canadian Chris Boucher likely to split time between power forward and centre.

Bembry, 6-foot-5, is known for his effort level, defence and athleticism. He can handle the ball a bit and create, but has struggled to shoot from everywhere on the floor aside from right at the rim, where he’s a good finisher. Bembry has shot just 27% from three in 189 career games, but with the status of two other potential Nick Nurse options uncertain, could be in the mix for some playing time.

Guard Terence Davis is facing legal issues and the Raptors will make a call on whether to cut or keep him by Nov. 29. Nurse favourite Patrick McCaw has not played since March due to a knee issue.

@WolstatSun

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Memo details updates to NFL's COVID-19 protocols; masks required for players on sidelines – NFL.com

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Major updates to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols were sent to all clubs on Monday in a memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Among the updates are a mandate for players to wear face coverings on the sideline if they are not wearing a helmet or entering a game starting with games played this Thursday. Those who do not subject to discipline.

The memo delivered a particularly pointed message noted by Pelissero: “Players who fail to wear masks on the sidelines will be subject to discipline. Clubs are required to enforce these rules. Violations by players and/or staff will result in accountability measures being imposed upon the Club.”

As coronavirus positive cases rise throughout the country, it is another step taken by the league to aid in combatting the spread of COVID-19 and it altering the 2020 season.

Some additional points of note:

  • Beginning Week 12, the maximum number of players able to travel to road games will be reduced to 62. To ensure equity, teams must submit a list of players designated as eligible to attend and/or play by 4 p.m. ET the day before game day to the league office.
  • Play-callers will no be required to wear a face mask or double-layered gaiter in addition to a face shied to be consistent with all other coaches who choose to wear face shields.
  • Postgame interactions between players and/or staff will be limited.
  • Starting Nov. 30, access to club facilities will be limited to those designated as “Essential Football, Essential Support or Other Medical/Special Services.” All others must now work remotely or a separate facility.
  • Beginning with Week 13 games, all members of teams’ traveling parties must wear N95 or KN95 masks on the team plane and on the team bus.

The memo was sent on a day in which notable NFL players such as Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen, Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson and multiple Baltimore Ravens were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

All 32 NFL teams currently are operating under the league’s COVID-19 intensive protocol for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The full updated protocol can be viewed below.

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