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Jazz mailbag: Seedings, jerseys and what about Bogdanovic?

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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, left, passes the ball as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 9, 2019, in Salt Lake City.

AP

SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA released a schedule for the remainder of the regular season, Utah Jazz players are back in the Salt Lake area, and preparations are underway for the league to descend on Walt Disney World in Orlando.

There’s a lot of ground to cover over the next few weeks, from the risks and guidelines in Orlando to the state of the Jazz and what is in the franchise’s immediate and not-so-immediate future. Today we start with some of your questions.

I think that there is a real chance the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder end up competing for the third and fourth seeds in the West.

The Denver Nuggets, currently at third, have a pretty rough schedule, especially at the end of the eight regular-season games, and I think there’s a chance that they could fall a little in the standings. The Houston Rockets also have a pretty hard schedule all the way through so I think they’ll stay around fifth or sixth.

Meanwhile, the Jazz have a pretty fair schedule and the Thunder have a couple games that will probably be easy wins to boost their record.

All that being said, it’s going to be a difficult run for the Jazz without Bojan Bogdanovic, and this is really uncharted territory for every team heading into a schedule like this without having played for four months, so we really don’t know what any team is going to look like when it hits the floor.

Based purely on the schedule and what we saw prior to the shutdown I’m going to lean on the positive side of things and say the Jazz end up with the third seed. That leads me to the next part of the question and the answer here will not make Jazz fans happy. As fate would have it I think the Jazz are going to end up facing the Rockets — again.

There’s not been any word about a jersey rotation for the Jazz, but on Saturday the Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner reported that the NBA, the NBPA and Nike are working on a dealthat would allow the players to replace the names on the back of their jerseys to something that would promote social justice or a cause related to combatting racial inequality and continuing the awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement.

No word yet on what the players’ union or NBA have decided on, or what other changes could be happening, but I’d expect to hear more about that soon.

All group activities and practices won’t start for teams until after they are in Orlando and players have been tested for COVID-19, returning two negative test results 24 hours apart.

Teams will start heading to Orlando on July 7 and arrive on a staggered timeline. After arriving, initial testing will begin. Practices and group activities are expected to start somewhere around July 9, depending on when a team arrived in Orlando and after all test results are back.

Beginning July 1, at home practice facilities, individual workouts will be mandatory for players who are cleared to play but any group activities or practices will be prohibited until teams are in Orlando.

On May 19 Bogdanovic underwent successful surgery on his right wrist. The Jazz forward is not a frequent poster on social media so there’s not much to go on about how he’s doing, but he did post to Twitter after his surgery to say thanks for all the support and reassure everyone that things went well.

“Appreciate all the love, texts and support,” he wrote. “My surgery today was a success. I’m looking forward to get back on the court as soon as possible! Love!”

The bottom line here is that in a case like this, no news is good news. If something was wrong or if there were any major hiccups in his recovery we would likely have heard about it.

There are so many things at play with the NBA’s season restart, and there are absolutely some positive things that could come from it, but it’s very hard to get away from the fact that money is the driving force behind it all.

The NBA is at risk of potentially losing billions of dollars in revenue if they cancel the season. That is absolutely the biggest reason for the league trying to find any way possible to restart the season. But, after that top level things get a little more nuanced.

Not every player makes millions of dollars, there are a good number of players who are relying on the money they make through the NBA to take care of the people in their lives. Additionally with the ongoing conversations about racial justice, players are hoping to take advantage of the stage they’ll have as the biggest and most popular sport returning with games and platforms every day in which they can spread their message.

There are also a ton of people who will be employed through the Disney Resort, restaurants, hotels, caterers who will benefit from having sports leagues heading to Florida to restart their seasons.

Even with all of that, it can be really hard to see the good when the fact remains that COVID-19 cases are rising, and Florida in particular is seeing a major spike in cases. How many players would have to become infected before the league shuts down? That’s a really good question that I don’t know the answer to.

Hopefully, with all of the safety protocols and guidelines the NBA will have in place, we won’t have to find out the answer to that.