The NBA is expected to agree to a plan at its next Board of Governors meeting to continue the 2019-20 season in Orlando. The prevailing option at this point would include 22 teams, a group that includes Sacramento and gives the Kings meaningful games to play.
Even though the games will be consequential, that doesn’t mean they’ll be normal — for starters, fans aren’t expected to be allowed at any games, despite Disney World projected to open up its park the general public on July 11. Although the players have been bracing to play in empty arenas for over two months, Harrison Barnes thinks that the impact of the fans is still underestimated, as he told Howard Beck on “The Full 48” podcast:
“I don’t think people in general just realize how much the fans give you. They create the atmosphere, they make the oohs and aahs... You have to dig down deep and manufacture the energy to go, but psychologically it’s going to be a little different.”
Presumably, the league won’t want to stage games in completely quiet arenas. When the NBA planned to have games without fans before the shutdown, teams considered how to organically keep the sound going, including continuing to announce starting lineups for the TV broadcast and play music during the breaks.
In the event that the atmosphere is muted, Barnes is especially interested in how communication among teams will be affected because everyone will be able to hear everything. Perhaps benches will whisper instead of yell during timeouts or coaches will have to disguise play calls.
The Kings forward also said that he thinks the media will be a prime beneficiary from the new set-up because they’ll get more insight into players than ever before:
“Essentially as a media person, you will be able to sit courtside or a few rows up, if that’s where they put you guys. You’ll be able to hear both timeouts and everything, it’ll be like we’re playing the game for an audience of 10, 5 maybe, and you’ll be able to have a deep in-depth look into everything that happens in an NBA game... I think it will be very interesting for you guys just to get that close look at what’s going on.”
Most NBA players are itching to get back and would probably be willing to play in any kind of noise environment. Barnes said he would even be comfortable with pumped in crowd noise. As long as the league can safely execute real games, what those games sound like in the arena and on television will be the least of anyone’s concerns.