NBA return: dates, place, standings and format for the regular season and playoffs
The NBA has reportedly agreed to a comeback with the game taking place in Disney World and starting on 31 July but there remains some confusion over the restart.
It has been three months since the Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the coronavirus and the NBA season was brought to a halt. After weeks of speculation, the NBA has a plan to return and finish the 2019-2020 season. The plan consists of 22 teams returning to action
It would be played in Orlando’s Disney World and include the 16 teams currently in a playoff spot. Six additional teams would join them in the return to action and there would be another team added to the list through a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.
According to Sham Charania from the Athletic, this is how the play-in tournament would work: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth. ESPN first reported the league was working on 22-team models."
Four different scenarios were proposed, which included 16, 20, 22 and 30-team models. It seems, however, that the 20-team proposal will be the one they start with on July 31. The NBA Draft Lottery will take place in August too.
Confusion and contention remains though, with Michael Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, saying he didn't want his players returning with nothing to play for and risking injury. The Bulls and Hawks want to return but several player are at odds with this outcome.
What teams are already in the play-offs?
Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Heat, Pacers, 76ers, Nets, and Magic in the East.
The Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Thunder, Rockets, Mavericks, and Grizzlies in the West.
The final six teams will be those that were within six games of a postseason berth when the season halted: Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns in the West, and the Wizards in the East.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, smaller-market teams are keen to return to action too due to "the potential symbolic power of all 30 teams gathering there to play as one united association." Those same teams are concerned about the fall-out from disappearing from the play-off race without a trace. "The message was something bigger, reminding people that some teams can't just reopen the doors in nine or 10 months and so easily sell tickets or a sponsorship without having played basketball for that long," one high-level Eastern Conference official on the call told ESPN.
'If a player tests positive for the virus, the league's intent would be to remove that player from the team to quarantine and treat individually -- and continue to test other team members as they play on,' sources said to ESPN.
No staff member at Walt Disnay will be allowed into players' rooms, and hallways will be carefully managed to avoid crowding, sources told Ramona Shelburne from ESPN.
The specifics of when games will be played is not yet known.
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