The NBA has been working diligently to resume its interrupted season amid the coronavirus, surveying general managers to learn their preferences while tentatively selecting Disney World’s Orlando facility as the host site for the league’s remaining 2019-20 schedule. Impressive progress has been made on that front with commissioner Adam Silver informing the NBA’s Board of Governors Friday that the league is targeting July 31st for its return.
According to NBA insider Shams Charania, the league has explored four potential re-start scenarios including plans to return with 16, 20, 22 and 30 teams. With the NBA committed to prioritizing the health and safety of its players, Charania considers the 30-team scenario unlikely.
Last week's survey revealed 53 percent of league execs prefer traditional playoff seeding (there had been talk of abandoning the NBA’s longstanding two-conference format) while 27 percent gave the thumbs up to an abbreviated regular season with play-in games for teams on the playoff bubble. The majority of GMs voted in favor of expanded playoffs with 20 or more teams (83 percent) and a 72-game regular season (60 percent) while also expressing their desire to end the season no later than October 1st. Teams not currently in the playoff picture were split on resuming their season (Portland’s Damian Lillard made headlines earlier this week for insisting he wouldn’t return unless the Trail Blazers had a legitimate opportunity to make the postseason) while a small majority (53 percent) indicated their preference for advancing straight to the playoffs.
There’s much work to be done and obviously the league will have to implement the necessary safety precautions (daily tests, empty arenas) before it can return in any capacity. But thanks to the cooperation of players and owners, the blueprint for an NBA return this summer is finally taking shape.