Bam Adebayo’s breakout season for the Miami Heat put him in a position to earn his first big NBA contract. Then the coronavirus took a wrecking ball to the league’s economy. As players prepare to enter the bubble to finish the season, Adebayo discussed the perils of playing basketball without a long-term deal during this ongoing health crisis.
Bam Adebayo becomes one of the best young NBA players
The Miami Heat were better than many people thought this season. Adebayo is one of the main reasons for the success. When he was drafted with the 14th pick in 2017, most expected him to be a defensively stout role player. But he’s already begun to surpass those assumptions.
Adebayo’s not just a good defender. He’s already one of the best in the league. Players with the ability to guard multiple positions are only getting more valuable as the league emphasizes speed and versatility on offense. Adebayo is one of the small number of players who can guard all five positions at a high level.
He knows how to leverage his athleticism and intelligence to keep the Heat’s defense afloat. (He and Jimmy Butler are the only plus defenders who played a lot of minutes this season.) The game that declared him to a bigger audience was a 105-89 win over the Bucks. Adebayo guarded Giannis Antetokounmpo for most of the game and held him to 13 points on 6-18 shooting.
He’s also been surprisingly effective on offense. Adebayo is such a solid passer and ballhandler that the team allows him to bring the ball to orchestrate the offense. And his five-assists-per-game average shows he can handle it. He has the potential to be the Draymond Green of his generation.
Miami has big plans for the future; Adebayo’s role will only get bigger from here. He’s in line for a massive contract extension that his play on the court deserves. He may not get that deal because the spread of the coronavirus has thrown the finances of everyone involved with the NBA into disarray.
Will COVID-19 pop the NBA’s bubble?
The NBA is still working to resume the season by the end of July, even as evidence builds that America may not be safe enough. The league’s plan earned the endorsement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, but that’s done little to stem the fears that sending every team to Orlando will end in disaster.
As detailed as the plan is, so many open questions don’t have easy solutions. How strict will the league be about players leaving the bubble? Will the Disney workers also be quarantined? What happens if a team has multiple confirmed cases during the playoffs? And that’s before you get into the concerns of players fearing the return of pro basketball will hurt the energy of the ongoing protests against America’s systemic racism.
On top of all of that is the fact that the number of cases in Florida has skyrocketed after the government relaxed quarantine protocols, reports NBC Miami. The situation is likely to get much worse over the next few weeks, increasing the chance of a rash of infections putting the lives of hundreds of people in jeopardy.
Nevertheless, money talks, and the owners, players, and business partners have collectively decided that these are risks worth taking. Hopefully, this gambit works out with minimal problems, but the signs are not good.
Despite concerns, Adebayo is willing to play ball
As dangerous as this proposition is, Adebayo is willing to play under these circumstances. But he’s not willing without more assurances about a potential payday. He is one of five players from his draft class whose dreams of securing the bag are now in question. So Adebayo is talking to the NBPA about securing better insurance policies to protect them from the impact of an injury occurring at Disney.
“Our whole thing was, ‘Look, we’re all due for extensions and we want to make sure that going into this bubble we are safe and we don’t get hurt,'” Adebayo said. “If we get hurt, we still have some backups … something in the back pocket that ensures that we still get paid.”
The cost of such a policy would be high. So players are rumored to have proposed a different solution: allowing them to sign contract extensions before the season restarts. Ultimately, Adebayo will go to Orlando regardless of whether he gets paid.
He has already said as much, as Heat Nation details: “I think it’ll be easier that we can play basketball. I think that’s the thing that made everybody go stir crazy … Like, we’re basketball players, that’s what we do … At the end of the day, like I said, a lot of dudes will be happy to play basketball.”
Adebayo’s love for the sport is part of the reason why he’s such a good player. But he won’t get the money he deserves if the worse comes to worst in Orlando. Hopefully he, and the rest of the people in the bubble, stay as safe as possible during this stressful time.