Sources: Draft combine is expected to go virtual

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The NBA is progressing on plans for a virtual draft combine to be held at regional sites throughout month of September, sources tell ESPN.

Formal plans could be completed and shared with teams in the next week, sources said.

In what’s likely to become one of the most wide open draft processes in years, prospective players would attend selected regional team facilities throughout the country, sources said. The plan would include team doctors administering physicals at local hospitals and league officials to recording body measurables and putting players through physical testing at team facilities, sources said.

The NBA still hasn’t made a final determination on the location or format for the October 16 draft event, sources said.

The NBA cancelled the original Chicago Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago that was scheduled for May, and reconfigured a virtual plan in a way that would limit travel and modify the number of players in any single location. The combine sites would include coronavirus testing for participants, sources said.

The NBA is conducting its draft lottery to determine the order from 1-to-14 on Thursday night from Secaucus, N.J.

It is unlikely that many, if any, top 2020 draft prospects would agree to the workout sessions that would be shared virtually with the league’s teams from the combine sites. But there will be an opportunity for players who want to be evaluated in a limited combine workout environment to do so for NBA teams, sources said.

Agents are careful to control what NBA evaluators are able to witness in the pre-draft process, and typically invite NBA executives to pre-draft Pro Day sessions that won’t be allowed this year during the pandemic.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic teams haven’t been allowed to do anything with prospective picks but virtual interviews. Teams can request players to do virtual interviews from the combine sites, just like they could request in Chicago during the annual combine. Those interviews are typically 30 minutes each. Teams often request interviews with players whom they may not be unable to convince to come into their cities and facilities to conduct lengthier workouts and meetings.

So far, it is unclear if players will be allowed at any point to travel to the cities of teams who’d want to consider selecting them. Currently, the NBA has prohibited in-person meetings and workouts. Agents are also prohibited from sending teams video workouts of players preceding the league’s original coronavirus shutdown on March 11.

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