With the NBA on a prolonged hiatus, league officials are actively brainstorming how to proceed with games and put on a proper postseason. One possible scenario the league is reportedly discussing regarding NBA playoffs is a much different format than fans are used to.
Officials are exploring the idea of holding the entirety of the NBA playoffs at one neutral location without any fans in attendance, the New York Post reports.
“Nothing is off the table,” an anonymous NBA official told the publication, while an industry source added that the league is set on crowning a 2020 champion.
The rumored format for the postseason would involve 16 teams competing in reduced best-of-three game series. Depending on the time frame playoffs are subjected to based on coronavirus developments, officials are not considering any single-game eliminations beyond a last resort measure. As the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, resuming the NBA season without fans is a likely possibility. Even Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban predicted that will be how the league will return as a matter of safety but also to appease deprived sports fans stuck at home.
As for the pinpointed location that would serve as a hub for NBA playoffs, there are multiple options in talks. Las Vegas is said to be the top option, while Atlantic City, Orlando, Louisville, Hawaii and even the Bahamas are also reportedly in discussions.
Commissioner Adam Silver previously outlined possible scenarios he was exploring for resuming the season. He noted the ideal option is to resume operations under normal circumstances in front of full crowds, though players returning to the court without fans was also a possibility. Silver also mentioned putting on exhibition games with players deemed safe and healthy in an effort to bring sports back to Americans.
“I’m optimistic by nature, and I want to believe that we’re going to be able to salvage at least some portions of this season,” Silver told ESPN earlier this month.
The NBA season has been suspended indefinitely since March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Several other players across the league have since contracted the virus.