NBA Approves Format to Complete Season at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

The National Basketball Association (NBA) Board of Governors approved a re-start of 2019-2020 season, with 22 teams returning to play and a possible start date Friday, July 31.

The Scene Is Picked

The league is still far from certain to resume, finalizing a comprehensive plan with the National Basketball Players Association, involving infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials, to approve a testing protocol and mitigate transmission risk.

The NBA is also seeking an agreement with The Walt Disney Company for the use as a campus site for games, practices and housing of its Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.

The NBA suspended its season March 11 after Rudy Gobert from Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus. In May, there was speculation that the NBA was looking into opportunities to complete its season in Las Vegas, with MGM Resorts offering its Mandalay Bay for the purpose, but now it turns out the league has chosen another destination.

The Actors Are Known

The league will resume with the 16 teams, 8 per conference, that are currently occupying the playoff spots, plus six other who are 6 games or fewer behind them. The season will restart with 8 “seeding games” for each team, including the possibility of a play-in tournament for the 8th seed in each conference, dependent on the combined regular season and seeding games records.

Once the teams are down to 16, the playoffs will feature the traditional format, 4 rounds best-of-seven in each.  The NBA plan approved by the Board of Governors requires the league to complete the season no later than October 12. The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be rescheduled for August 25, the 2020 NBA Draft would take place October 15 and the 2020-21 NBA regular season will begin December 1, 2020.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season. While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts…”

Adam Silver, Commissioner, NBA

The teams that will return to action for the season restart will be the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns from the Western Conference.

It is not clear what will happen with the teams that will not return to action, as per the proposed format they will be without competitive games for 9 months, raising concerns regarding player development.

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