The NBA may not have to stage its next season within a quarantined environment.
Though the league's experiment at Walt Disney World has proved successful thus far, with no players on the campus testing positive for COVID-19 in the last month, commissioner Adam Silver says the 2020-21 season won't hinge entirely on the creation of another bubble.
"We are deep into the planning stages, but only to the extent that we have dozens of permutations as we look into next season. It's certainly not bubble or bust," Silver told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.
"Our first and highest priority would be to find a way to have fans in our arenas. We're continuing to look at all the different testing methods. We are current on vaccine developments and antivirals and other protocols around the possibility of bringing people together in arenas.
"We're studying what colleges are doing as they look to bring thousands of students back on campus. We're going to try to find the right balance between waiting as long as possible, so we have the best possible information at the time we’re making the decision, and recognizing that, at some point, we have to begin to lock in plans."
Some executives around the league have expressed skepticism about forgoing an isolated setting for 2020-21. National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts suggested in July that a bubble may be necessary for next season "if tomorrow looks like today."
It was reported Wednesday that the NBA is already considering up to four potential sites for bubble environments for 2020-21: New York City, the Dallas Fort-Worth area, Las Vegas, and the current Orlando campus.
Silver added that while nothing related to next season is remotely guaranteed, he's hopeful the NBA's current endeavor at Walt Disney World will help spur the development of rapid testing, which could expedite the return of fans to arenas.
"We would like to find a way to play in front of fans, but it's just too early to know how realistic this is," he said. "I have to say though, I would not bet against American ingenuity.
"Just because of how high-profile our experience in Orlando is right now, we are in conversation with dozens of testing companies. We're studying all kinds of new, relatively inexpensive, rapid tests. The extent (to which) those tests are successful and coming to market, that will also open up more possibilities for us in bringing fans into arenas, even pre-vaccine."
It's currently unclear exactly when the 2020-21 season will begin. The league had been targeting a Dec. 1 start date, but the timeline could reportedly be pushed back in order to allow fans to attend games.