The NBA’s G League will open its season in February with its teams playing in an Orlando, Florida-area bubble — but the Los Angeles Lakers affiliate has opted out of fielding a squad this year.
The South Bay Lakers announced Friday that they will not be participating in the single-site season, which was devised to minimize coronavirus risks for players and staff.
“While we appreciate the G League’s efforts in putting together this model to accommodate all member teams, we have determined this is the best course of action for the Lakers organization,” the South Bay Lakers said in a statement.
The team added, “We look forward to our eventual return to G League basketball.”
Meanwhile, the Agua Caliente Clippers — the affiliate of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers — will be one of the 18 teams participating in the G League season.
“While we continue working towards our ultimate goal of returning to market and playing in front of our fans when it’s deemed safe to do so, we’re excited to be taking part in the 2021 NBA G League season in Orlando,” Agua Caliente President Justin Kemp said.
The NBA finished its regular season and played its playoffs in a similar bubble set-up last year, with the L.A. Lakers winning the NBA title.
That’s the basic plan for the G League starting next month.
“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,” NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim said.
“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.”
The G League will play its games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Bay Lake, Fla.
“Our Cast Members are eager to work with the NBA family again and welcome in the next round of talented basketball players to compete at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” said Faron Kelley, vice president of Disney Sports. ”Most importantly, Disney and the NBA G League will continue our shared focus on the necessary safety protocols for the well-being of the players, coaches, staff and everyone supporting this event.”
The top eight teams will advance to a single-elimination playoff.
NBA teams without a G League affiliate participating in Orlando will have the opportunity to assign roster players and transfer two-way players, using the league’s flexible assignment and two-way rules. Normally, players on two-way contracts are allowed only 45 days on an NBA roster. But this year, two-way players can be active for 50 games.
The complete G League game and broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.