The NBA is back (or will be soon)!
That’s the word from Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Keith Smith, among others, as everyone awaits the NBA Board of Governors meeting which is expected to convene Friday afternoon. The plan will need to garner a yes vote from 2/3rds of the 30 team governors —aka principal owners. But to present a unified front, the vote is expected to be unanimous.
Here’s a summary of the plan per reports.
- The NBA will use a 22-team format —nine Eastern Conference teams and 13 from out west —and play in a fan-less “bubble” at ESPN Wide World of Sports, part of Walt Disney World, starting Friday, July 31. The latest possible date for a Finals Game 7 would be October 12, meaning players from the Finals teams will be staying at a Disney resort, reportedly WDW’s Coronado Springs Resort, for nearly three months.
- Each of the 22 teams will play eight regular-season games in Orlando for playoff seeding purposes, a total of 88 games, at two different arenas. The Nets would pick up their schedule from the time of stoppage but only against those teams at the bubble. As our Reed Wallach tweeted, Nets schedule would be: Clippers, Kings, Wizards, Celtics, Magic, Clippers, Magic and Trail Blazers.
- The final seed in each conference will then be determined via two means. If at the end of the resumed regular season, the eighth seed holds a four-game lead on the ninth seed, the eighth seed will automatically advance to the playoffs. However, if the lead is less than four games, the eighth and ninth teams will hold a three-game play-in tournament to determine who goes to the playoffs.
- The Nets currently hold the seventh seed, one-half game ahead of the Magic. The Wizards, in ninth place, are five and a half games out of eighth, six games behind the Nets, a big gap to make up in a short period of time.
- The current expectation is that NBA personnel will arrive at Walt Disney World in early-July to assist with setup. Team personnel (players, coaches, trainers, etc) are expected to arrive in mid-July following a short training camp in their home practice facilities. There will be rigorous safety protocols in place for NBA and Disney Cast, aka employees.
- Health requirements will require bench players to sit in spread-out rows, inactive players in the stands. No guests until the playoffs. A number of family members will be permitted to stay at the resort.
- While there will be rigorous medical testings, etc., it will be up to the NBA to determine where their personnel are —and aren’t— allowed to go while at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World will provide support for whatever the NBA decides, but will not make those decisions. Players, coaches and staff will be allowed to golf and eat at outdoor restaurants at Disney, but they will also be required to maintain social distancing.
- Games would likely start as early as a 12:00 noon ET with the last games starting as late 10:30 PM ET. West Coast teams and big market teams would be pushed to the later start times for maximum TV ratings.
- The NBA Draft and Free Agency would begin following the crowning of an NBA champion, meaning mid-to-late October. The NBA Draft Combine and Lottery would take place in August after the playoff seeds are set.
- No final word on the roster size. Most teams would like two-way players be made eligible for the playoffs at a minimum. Many others would like to add 1-3 additional players to the roster, along with two-ways. That remains a discussion point. Also, nothing yet on when the NBA’s transaction ban will be lifted.
The final agreement between the NBA and Disney is expected to be completed on Thursday or Friday. Disney World, which has been shuttered since March, will open in stages starting with the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on Friday.
As for the WNBA, whose season was supposed to be underway two weeks ago, there are reports that the league will also adopt a “bubble” approach with with either Las Vegas or the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, the venue for fan-less games.
- Sources reveal details of NBA’s proposal of 22-team restart plan - Shams Charania - The Athletic NBA
- Sources: NBA to approve plan for 22-team return with eight regular-season games - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN
- AP source: NBA presents players with plan for season restart - Tim Reynolds - AP
- The 6 N.B.A. Updates to Know - Marc Stein - New York Times
- N.B.A. Team Owners to Vote on 22-Team Plan to Resume Season - Marc Stein - New York Times
- Once again, Nets will have to fight for their playoff lives - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Here is the NBA’s 22-team Orlando return plan - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Board of Governors to vote Thursday on plan for NBA to return - Steve Popper - Newsday