The Miami Heat will maintain a fully operational executive suite at AmericanAirlines Arena while the team competes in the "bubble" type setting in Disney World during the NBA's planned resumption.
Heat President Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg will remain in South Florida, with the NBA draft and free agency following almost immediately after the conclusion of the pandemic-delayed season.
That has Vice President of Basketball Operations Adam Simon with the team at Disney, with each team required to have at least one "senior basketball executive" on site.
The Heat plan to eventually have 17 players for the restart, which will come in the absence of fans at the Wide World of Sports complex. Wednesday's bus trip to Central Florida was scheduled for only 15, with two players who recently tested positive for coronavirus yet to be cleared to travel. Those players are now subject to an additional level of testing before being cleared to leave South Florida.
Forward Derrick Jones Jr., who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier, was cleared to make Wednesday's bus trip.
The NBA's testing remains ongoing, which yet could impact the Heat's roster for the league's resumption. The Heat's schedule at Disney opens with three exhibition games, starting July 22; followed by eight "seeding" games to complete the regular season, starting Aug. 1; and then the playoffs, which will be conducted over the typical four rounds, in a best-of-seven format.
The NBA assigned the Heat their first two practice windows at Disney, the first from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and the second from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Teams are limited to 35 members in their initial traveling parties, in addition to a media-relations representative and a social-content representative. The traveling parties can possibly be altered or possibly increased after the first round of the postseason.
In additional to the 17 Heat players expected to eventually convene for practices at Disney, there are six members of the coaching staff in the traveling party: coach Erik Spoelstra, assistants Malik Allen, Dan Craig, Chris Quinn and Anthony Carter, as well as shooting coach Rob Fodor. That list has assistant coach Octavio De La Grana away from the team.
Joining those 23 will be six members of the Heat's training staff: trainer Jay Sabol, assistants Wes Brown, Brandon Gilliam and Armando Rivas, strength coach Eric Foran and neuromuscular therapist Vinny Aquilino.
Beyond those 29, the list for the Heat traveling party includes Simon, Director of Basketball Administration Scott Gurka, Vice President of Basketball Security David Holcombe, Equipment Manager Rob Pimental, and video coordinators Eric Glass and Dan Bisaccio.
The NBA mandated that all traveling parties for the 22 teams invited to Disney include at least one trainer, strength coach, equipment representative and security staffer, as well as the aforementioned senior executive.
Several remaining members of the staff who typically travel are expected to work behind the scenes from AmericanAirlines Arena or remotely, with the Heat's draft preparations to be ongoing amid the conclusion of a season that has been delayed since March 11 by the new coronavirus pandemic.
"It's an agonizing process," Spoelstra said last month of such limitations amid the league's quarantine approach. "I think we all have to have a great deal of empathy and compassion for staff members who really have a big-time role that won't be able to go.
"I just hate this term of 'essential' staff, and 'non-essential' staff."
The NBA allowed for two team media employees to also be part of the traveling party. For the Heat those are Vice President of Sports Media Relations Tim Donovan and Terek Pierce, the team 's digital content producer manager.
Among the NBA's guidelines for selecting the initial traveling party was, "Teams should continue to rely on individuals not traveling to the campus to provide support and services to the team remotely, to the extent practicable. Teams should also work with such individuals to prepare for the possibility that they may be required to travel to the campus at a later date to provide necessary services."
Those outside of the traveling party, including Riley, Elisburg, owner Micky Arison and others in the front office not in the traveling party, will be allowed to view games and practices in person while socially distanced, but are not allowed to interact in person with those in the restricted "bubble" setting.
The Heat's practice facility was closed last week after two positive COVID tests. The Heat have declined to publicly identify the players who have tested positive, citing NBA guidelines.
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