This is a big week for the NBA as teams begin to ramp things up in anticipation of resuming the season, which will begin July 30 in Orlando.

On Wednesday, teams will begin mandatory individual workouts.

The following week, 22 teams will depart for Orlando and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex. The 76ers will depart for Orlando on July 9.

Amid all the health concerns, the NBA is making an effort to finish the season. At this point, nothing is a given.

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— Marc Narducci (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Assessing the return

The NBA is preparing a startup and due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, nobody knows if the plan to resume the season in Orlando will work.

“COVID-19 has humbled us as a society,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a Friday conference call with reporters.

The first regular-season games, called “seed games,” will begin on July 30. Teams will play eight games before the playoffs. The Sixers open Aug. 1 against the Indiana Pacers.

On Friday, the NBA announced that 16 of the 302 players tested postive for COVID-19. Silver did mention that none of the 16 were seriously ill.

With all that as a background, we consulted with Ron Waldman, MD, the professor of Global Health Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University.

Dr. Waldman, who is an infectious disease expert, doesn’t feel that 16 positive tests will have a negative impact moving forward.

“I don’t see why it would affect anything,” he said in a phone interview. “They just need to make sure they go in with a zero baseline, you can’t have the virus enter the facility.”

He said the key will be testing.

“They need to test others often,” he said. “I think the protocols I saw were pretty good.”

Silver said that on Friday that “there will be daily testing, at least to start.”

Waldman was then asked a simple question as to whether this plan can work.

“My instant response is maybe,” she said. “Keep in mind if a group of players don’t have the virus, they can’t transmit it so it’s not so much the players, but any outside people who can transmit it.”

That said, Waldman says that it’s likely that things won’t totally go smoothly.

“It’s very possible there could be setbacks along the way,” he said. “There could be bumps in the road, but if they really want to do it, I think it is possible. I am not crazy about being in the middle of Florida now, because that presents a risk.”

Waldman stated an obvious fact, that the players need to adhere to in order for the plan to have a chance at working

“The players need to wear masks when they are not playing,” Waldman said. “They need to be really vigilant.”

If that occurs, there is no guarantee and nobody understands this better than Silver.

“One thing we’re learning with this virus is so much is unpredictable,” Silver said. “We’re not saying full steam ahead no matter what happens. We all talk daily and we’re going to see how this continues to play out, but we feel very comfortable right now with where we are.”

Sixers Ownership Limited Partner Michael Rubin (right) with Ownership Managing Partner Josh Harris while the Sixers played the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, February 7, 2020 in Philadelphia.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Sixers Ownership Limited Partner Michael Rubin (right) with Ownership Managing Partner Josh Harris while the Sixers played the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, February 7, 2020 in Philadelphia.

Starting Five

What draft class was better, 1996 or 2003? Damichael Cole poses this question and comes up with his answer as well.

Pennsauken graduate William “World Wide Wes” Wesley has been hired as an executive with the New York Knicks.

Sixers forward Tobias Harris attempts to lay-up the basketball against Dallas Mavericks guard Delon Wright (left) and guard Ryan Broekhoff during the second-quarter on Friday, December 20, 2019 in Philadelphia.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Sixers forward Tobias Harris attempts to lay-up the basketball against Dallas Mavericks guard Delon Wright (left) and guard Ryan Broekhoff during the second-quarter on Friday, December 20, 2019 in Philadelphia.

Recalling Ryan Broekhoff’s big game vs. the Sixers

Over the weekend, the Sixers signed swingman Ryan Broekhoff as a free agent for the rest of the season. Will the Australian sharpshooter have much impact?

That is tough to say, but he at least offers a skill the Sixers are in dire need of - outside shooting.

One of his shining moments came against the Sixers in the Mavericks’ 117-98 win on Dec. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers were 29-2 at home, so this was no small feat for Dallas.

Broekhoff, who was cut by the Mavericks on Feb. 10, scored eight points all in the first half as the Mavs took a 63-57 lead at intermission. Playing 13 minutes and 23 seconds in the first half, he shot 3 of 7, including 2 of 5 from beyond the arc.

While Broekhoff went scoreless in the second half and didn’t attempt a field goal while playing just under five minutes, he gave the Mavs a huge lift in the first two quarters.

Can the 6-foot-6 swingman help the Sixers?

At the least, he should get a chance to show if he should receive playoff minutes.

It’s not a big sample size, but in his two seasons with Dallas over 59 games, Broekhoff shot 40.3 percent from three-point range.

The Sixers are 14th in the NBA in three-point shooting (36.2%), but any team can use more outside firepower.

Important Dates:

All games in Orlando

Aug, 1 Indiana, 7 p.m.

Aug. 3, San Antonio Spurs, 8

Aug. 5, Washington, 4 NBA TV

Aug. 7 Orlando, 6:30 TNT

Aug. 9 Portland, 6:30 NBA TV

(Note: At press time, the local TV schedule hadn’t been released).

Passing the Rock

Question: Is a marquee veteran SG/PG with GREAT LEADERSHIP SKILLS in the team’s future? - Eugene Pough, via Facebook.

Answer: Thanks for this great question, Eugene. With their roster set at 17 players to take to Orlando, in talking about next year, anything is possible. The Sixers, however, are in such a tough salary situation, that signing a marquee free agent will be difficult. For instance, there is speculation (or is it wishful thinking) of trading Al Horford, but we don’t think there will be many teams lining up for a $27.5 million power-forward center who turned 34 in June and has played this season as if his better days are behind him. So the Sixers will have to be extremely creative if they enter the trade or the free-agent markets. Two veteran free agents who fit the bill for what you are looking for are Langston Galloway, the former St. Joseph’s star of Detroit, and Jeff Teague of Atlanta. The Sixers will explore all options.