The NBA is hell-bent on finishing what is left of the 2019-20 season, considering ALL possible options as a potential decision date looms. There are still plenty of logistics to work out, but the framework has been laid. There might be a lengthy trip to Walt Disney World – and nixing the end of the regular season is a possibility – but basketball is coming back this year.
The news, as it stands right now according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, is that the NBA plans to resume play in late July with players returning to facilities and practices sometime in early June.
All signs are pointing to a “bubble” venue that will host whatever is left of the season and it’s sounding more and more likely that Orlando’s Walt Disney World will be that bubble spot. The ample amount of basketball courts and training facilities, along with the various housing and food options, make it the most suitable option instead of forcing teams to constantly travel across the country during a pandemic. ESPN actually owns a 200-acre sports complex within the resort.
NBA in talks to resume play at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex https://t.co/GhijC9EFsF
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 23, 2020
“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said in a press release on Saturday. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”
In the same ESPN article by Shelburne, she concluded it with a sense of optimism:
“Barring an unforeseen turn of events, many NBA owners, executives and NBPA elders believe commissioner Adam Silver will greenlight the return to play in June — with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July, sources said.”
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that NBA leaders and players will meet once again this coming Friday to establish ideas on a timetable to return. Woj has also said that the plan is for there to be a two-week recall of all players so they can be quarantined, followed by 1-2 weeks of individual workouts, and then a 2-3 week training camp before resuming the season. Whether or not the NBA plans on jumping straight into the playoffs as opposed to finishing off the remaining 15-20 games left in the regular season has yet to be determined. But if we take a look at the current standings – and consider how much of a time crunch the league will be in to quickly shift into next season – it would make more sense if they dive into the postseason.
Outside of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, the other 15 teams in the playoff picture aren’t going to drop out. Some of the seedings might flip-flop, but even then, the Portland Trail Blazers are still 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the final playoff spot out West. All things considered, finishing up those games feels irrelevant to anything other than draft lottery positioning (well, that and money, which is why they haven’t made any concrete decisions on that front just yet). From everything the league has said thus far, it doesn’t sound like they plan on this taking longer than it needs to. Finishing the regular season extends this process. But to play devil’s advocate, an extra week or two of regular-season games will only increase the athlete’s abilities to get back in shape before the grueling postseason schedule.
The key to all of this, however, always has been and always will be testing for the coronavirus. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he is going to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC when compiling a plan. This means the tests will need to be quick and constant – and there needs to be a whole lot of them. The concept of a bubble location helps reduce this issue by ensuring players and staff members are always monitored, but it doesn’t eliminate it by any means.
A return to play must also be approved by the National Basketball Players Association. It is all but assured that fans will not be allowed to attend the games, either.
If the NBA ultimately decides to skip the remaining regular-season games, here’s what a playoff bracket would look like.
If this is how the final standings shake out, there will be a total of 13 former Kentucky players set to participate – nine of them are in the West and four are in the East.
No. 1 – Los Angeles Lakers: Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo
No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers: Patrick Patterson
No. 3 – Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray
No. 5 – Oklahoma City Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nerlens Noel, Hamidou Diallo
No. 7 – Dallas Mavericks: Willie Cauley-Stein, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
No. 1 – Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Bledsoe
No. 3 – Boston Celtics: Enes Kanter
No. 4 – Miami Heat: Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro
The NBA will hopefully give fans an actual date as to when the league plans to return sometime next week. There is a board of governor’s meeting set for Friday, May 29th.