NBA has July 31 circled as target date for return
TORONTO And now, officially a target date. The NBA hasn’t worked all the kinks out yet, but a return date of July 31 is circled on its calendar.
In a world turned upside down by a global pandemic, it’s not the be all and end all for anyone, really, but it’s a sign that our lives are at least beginning to get back to something resembling normalcy.
Of course, when the game does return and the ball goes up, it will still be different from how we last left it.
If they go ahead, the NBA will play its games within the locked community of Walt Disney
World in Orlando, Fla. There will be no fans in the stands, though the games will be available for viewing — at least, on television.
They may open the bubble city to a handful of national reporters who would serve as pool correspondents.
It’s doable, of course, though not ideal, but who is going to complain? The broadcasters who have paid for league TV rights will be taken care of because they have paid for that privilege. The rest of the media will take what’s offered.
A July 31 target date for a restart gives teams plenty of time to get back into game shape — two full months plus.
But right now, that’s really all we know. We don’t know how many teams will be returning to continue their seasons. The push seems to be to bring back only the number necessary to make it fair.
The arbiter of what is fair will be commissioner Adam Silver.
He conducted a two-hour board of governors meeting on Friday, hearing from his 30 member owners about what they would like to see done.
But rest assured, what he’s hearing from the Milwaukee Bucks — who go into this thing with best record in the NBA and a vested interest in Silver’s final decision — is much different from the bottom feeding Golden State Warriors, who won just 15 games and are far more interested in maintaining their odds of securing the first overall pick in the draft than they are in getting back on the court.
Silver has the super delicate task of trying to appease 30 teams with close to 30 different agendas. Sure the Bucks,
L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers and Toronto Raptors will have similar wants as the top four seeds. But what of the outliers like the Atlanta Hawks, who have no shot at a title, but would just like to see their young, developing team get as much playing experience as possible.
Reading the tea leaves from what’s come out of the various league meetings the past week, there could be teams unhappy that they have to play with little to no shot of meaningful advancement, while at the same time there is the very real possibility that some teams may be told to stay home and call it a year despite their wish to play.
Silver has some very tough decisions to make but as he has shown in the past, he’s more than capable.
Like any good leader in any sport, he has been making the rounds and soliciting the wants and needs of the 30 owners he serves as well as the 30 teams he oversees, and just as importantly, the 500 or so players that make up the league.
He’s got to balance safety for all those involved with the wants and needs of the team owners, and a separate wish list from league GMS. Then he’s got to make it palatable for the broadcasters, whose large investments have to be recouped in some manner with the best rendition of the game that can be played as we all carry on under the shadow of another possible spike in COVID-19 that would make all of this moot.
ESPN got a look at the results of a GM survey. Not surprisingly, exactly 16 teams voted in favour of a plan that would see only the 16 playoff teams as of March 11 return and go directly into a playoff bracket.
The other three scenarios presented didn’t receive the support the direct-to-playoffs one did. The other three were:
Resume the regular season
with all 30 teams, followed by a play-in tournament (eight votes)
Go straight to the playoffs with
either a play-in tournament or a World Cup-style group stage (five votes)
Resume the regular season
with all 30 teams and then go straight to the playoffs (one vote)
As for the format the playoffs will take, 16 teams were in favour of the traditional conference seeding, while 14 were in favour of reseeding. regardless of conference.
Silver, according to ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski, is expected to have the final plan hashed out with the Players’ Association within the week before taking it back to the board of governors for approval.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is trying to appease 30 teams with 30 different agendas.