While the NBA’s season suspension approaches the three-month mark, officials may have an official restart date in the cards.
League executives are reportedly gearing up to finalize details of the season’s resumption this week. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA’s Board of Governors is expected to vote on the league’s proposal to return Thursday, which would aim for a July 31 start date and potentially run as late as October 12.
Details of of the league’s reported plan include using a 22-team playoff format which would find the eighth side in each conference decided by a play-in tournament. Wojnarowski reports that the Pelicans, Blazers, Spurs, Kings, Suns and Wizards are each within six games of the No. 8 seed and therefore be invited to resume play.
Other logistics include staging the games behind closed doors in Orlando, specifically at the Disney-owned ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Teams invited to play would likely need to reduce their personnel as part of mitigating virus risks, among other measures. Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly instilled confidence in officials about the league’s return in a recent call regarding how the NBA will navigate coronavirus testing and treatment should personnel contract the virus.
If the postseason plan comes to fruition following approval from executives and players alike, an October finish would seemingly push back the start of the 2020-21 season. NBA officials have floated the idea of a December start for the following season not only to accommodate for the pandemic-induced suspension but also provide leeway for venues to admit fans into games safely.
The NBA would follow the NHL if they provide a return-to-play plan while Major League Baseball remains in negotiations with players about its possible 2020 season.