The NBA has shared preliminary details of its plan to resume the season after play was abruptly suspended due to the coronavirus. The plan is expected to be approved at tomorrow afternoon’s meeting of the league’s Board of Governors, according to ESPN.
Here’s what we know. Twenty-two teams would be invited back to play — the top eight teams in each conference (those who would be in the playoffs if they started today) and six teams currently within six games of the eighth-place spot in their conferences. That means that the Cavaliers, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, Hornets, Warriors, and Timberwolves would not play any more basketball this season, though mandatory summer training camps and regional fall leagues have been discussed.
Each remaining team would play eight games to finish out the regular season. If, at the end of the year, the ninth seed in either conference was four or fewer games back from the eighth seed, those teams would engage in a play-in tournament. Lose one game and the ninth seed would be out, but if it won two it would overtake the eighth seed and make the playoffs. It’s unknown what would happen if multiple teams tied for ninth.
The plan would have teams begin training at their own facilities next month before advancing to full training camps in Orlando. The season would begin on July 31, with all games to be played at the Disney World Resort there. It almost goes without saying at this point, but live spectators are not part of this plan.
The Athletic additionally reports that bench players would sit with space between them, inactive players would sit in the otherwise empty stands, and all players would be forbidden from hosting guests until the playoffs began.
There would be daily testing for everyone in the NBA “bubble,” and if a player tested positive for the virus the league would quarantine him while letting the rest of the team play on, a procedure in line with commissioner Adam Silver’s comments last month.
If the owners approve the plan, the next step on the road back to basketball would be for the players to do the same. That appears likely, with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts saying that the “overwhelming” sentiment has been that they “really want to play.”
So it’s possible — even probable — that we have live basketball again in a matter of weeks. It’s definitely going to be weird, but a fanbase fresh out of The Last Dance episodes to watch should be grateful for every minute of the action, even if they can’t experience it in person.