NBA’S RETURN WILL INCLUDE A FEW TWISTS
As expected, the NBA board of governors followed the lead of commissioner Adam Silver and gave his return-to-play plan a resounding vote of approval by a 29-1 count.
The lone dissenter was the Portland Trail Blazers, who, according to ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski, voted against “because the franchise believed there were more competitive and innovative formats on table.”
Regardless, the first major step in basketball’s return has been completed.
Still to come is a ratification by the players’ association, which is expected Friday and official agreement by Walt Disney
World in Orlando to host the remainder of the NBA schedule and playoffs.
Work on that front has already been done and the confirmation of that is expected to come in the next couple of days.
So back to the games.
Here are the particulars of how the NBA will resume.
WHO WILL PLAY?
The top 22 teams as per the NBA standings on March 11 when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down. That group includes:
13 Western Conference teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns.
Nine Eastern Conference teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards.
The cutoff for teams lower than eighth place in their conference were the teams within six games of the eighth-place record in their respective conference.
HOW OFTEN WILL TESTING OCCUR?
The plan is for daily, uniform testing for all within the bubble, according to ESPN.
WHERE WILL THEY PLAY?
As mentioned, all games will take part within a tight bubble within Walt Disney World at the Wide World of Sports Complex.
The games will be played at one of three venues: The Arena, HP Field House, and the Visa Athletic Center, according to ESPN.
HOW WILL THE REGULAR SEASON UNFOLD?
The season will conclude with eight games for each of the 22 teams in play as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. Those game will determine playoff seeding. At the conclusion of the games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.
The schedule could include up to as many as seven games a day during the first three weeks of August as the league takes care of tying up the regular season with those eight games per team.
WILL THERE BE A TRAINING CAMP?
Yes, there will actually be both a pre-camp and an actual training camp period. International players will be told to be back in their home market or at that team’s pre-camp site by June
15. We mention the team’s precamp site because it’s sounding very likely the Toronto Raptors, for instance, will do its camp somewhere in the U.S. with half the team already down there and a trip to Orlando in their near future anyway.
All players must report by June 21 with testing beginning June
The actual training camps within the bubble will begin between July 9 and 11, but teams will arrive July 7 and begin a 14-day quarantine.
WHO MAKES THE PLAYOFFS?
The top seven in each conference following the seeding games automatically qualify for the playoffs, which will all be seven-game series and follow the traditional NBA playoff format of first round, conference semifinals, conference finals and then the finals.
If the ninth place team is within four games of the eightplace team at the end of regulation games, those two teams will conduct a play-in series for the final berth.
To earn the eighth and final seed, the eighth-place team would have to defeat the ninthplace team just once. The ninth-place team can only bump the eighth-place team with two consecutive wins.
WHAT ABOUT THE DRAFT?
The league has set Aug. 25 as the draft lottery with the actual draft date to be held Oct. 15.
The 176 regular-season games played in Orlando will count toward draft position, so all 22 of the teams active for the return to play could have their positions change. The eight teams not involved are locked into their current spot based on the records on March 11
WHAT ABOUT NEXT SEASON?
The league has set a tentative target date of Dec. 1 for opening night for 2020-21. Training camp for next season is tentatively set to open Nov. 10. Free agency would begin Oct. 18.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has overwhelming support from the league’s board of governors for his plan to resume the season.