Last month, on a conference call with reporters to discuss the start of the season, I asked Adam Silver about the NBA’s fallback plans—specifically, a return to a similar bubble-like environment that allowed the league to safely complete the 2019–20 season—should the COVID-19 pandemic become too disruptive.

“As you might imagine, we have lots of alternative plans in the drawers,” Silver said. “Depending on how this goes, we’ll look at other alternatives if we need to.”

The NBA might need to.

The last week has been among the league’s most paralyzing. Four players tested positive for COVID-19, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Kevin Durant—who tested positive last March—was sidelined because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols which, translated, means contact tracing determined that Durant was exposed to someone with the virus. The Celtics frontcourt was gashed on Friday when Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams were pulled for the same reason. Philadelphia barely scraped together the minimum eight players on Saturday after Seth Curry’s positive diagnosis wreaked havoc on the roster.

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