LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Luke Walton was trying to find the right words to motivate his players to finish the season strong.
The Sacramento Kings had been eliminated from playoff contention, which was nothing new for the team with the NBA’s longest streak of missing the postseason.
Yet, even players who’d spent their whole careers with the organization had never heard the type of speech their coach made this week. This wasn’t the normal talk of playing for pride, of trying to make an impression for next season.
“He said something like, ‘We don’t know when the basketball is going to come back after this time,’” guard Bogdan Bogdanovic said.
The 22 teams who qualified for the NBA’s restart will be down to 16 by the end of the weekend, when the playoff bracket is set. The other six clubs exit World Disney World the same way as tourists who normally pack the place.
Their fun is over. Now it’s back to the real world, and the real world in 2020 is an unsettling place.
“The unknown, none of us like that,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said.
Uncertainty awaits at the end of every season for teams that miss the playoffs. Coaches might not be retained. Free agents may not be re-signed.