It’s been almost two months since the NBA suspended its season after Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. According to Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, the NBA is now willing to wait until September to complete the 2019-20 season if necessary.
From the Orlando Sentinel:
“Our league has decided that we’re going to try to get in as much of our season and playoffs as the data will allow us to,” Martins told the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force’s Guidelines for Business Reopening Working Group Tuesday morning. “We’ll play as late as Labor Day if we have to and even delay, as was reported this past week, we’ve been having initial discussions about even delaying the start of next season based on trying to get as much as this season in as possible.”
Keep in mind that the 2020 NBA Draft can’t take place until the 2019-20 season is complete. The Board of Governors already voted on Friday to postpone the draft lottery and draft combine, which were originally scheduled to take place this month, so it’s only a matter of time before the draft is pushed back as well.
That being said, there is some forward progress. Starting on Friday, teams in states without government lockdown orders (like Georgia) may begin reopening team facilities to players for voluntarily individual workouts. According to Shams Charania, the league is considering using Las Vegas and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida as sites to finish out the season, and starting the 2020-21 season on Christmas Day.
The top two locations for a return to play, 30-40 essential people per team and players’ close family members: Disney World in Orlando and Las Vegas.
How would that look? I’m told preliminary plans have consisted around a two-week quarantine period in which everyone there is tested; once those two weeks end, retest and allow the players who remain as negative tests to start a 14-day training camp. It will require the necessary amount of tests — rapid ones, at that — and agreements with the league and its players association. A White House official told me that the government will help the NBA and any league that is looking to return to play.
Even if we have to wait until September, basketball coming back in The Happiest Place on Earth feels appropriate.