SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It’s all but official now — the NBA is coming back.
But a vote of 29-1, with the one dissenting vote coming from the Portland Trail Blazers, the NBA Board of Governors approved a plan to resume the season beginning July 31st at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Under the plan, 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams will play eight regular-season “seeding” games, a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed and playoffs at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The top 16 teams in the Eastern and Western conferences will be joined by teams currently within six games of eighth place in the two conferences — New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix and Washington.
The top eight seeds from each conference will advance to the post-season, where there will be 7-game series throughout the NBA Finals.
While the schedule has not been officially released, it is expected that teams will pick up their schedule where it left off before the season was suspended on March 11th due to the coronavirus outbreak. If teams have games against teams that did not make the trip to Orlando, they would either move on to the next game, or there could be a strength of schedule formula used to determine the opponent.
If that were the case, the Utah Jazz, currently the fourth seed in the Western Conference, would play Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Memphis, the Los Angeles Lakers (twice), San Antonio (twice) and Dallas.
A play-in tournament will be held that will include the No. 8 and No. 9 teams in a conference — if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth. In that case, the No. 9 seed would need to beat the No. 8 seed twice to earn the playoff berth, while the No. 8 would need one win from the two potential games.
“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “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. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”
The NBA said the season’s resumption is contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN, to use the Walt Disney Resort for all games, practices and housing.
Teams will begin training in Orlando starting July 9-11, sources said.
The league also offered dates beyond the July 31-Oct. 12 season window, with the draft lottery set on Aug. 25, the NBA draft on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 season likely beginning Dec. 1. Sources told ESPN that free agency could begin Oct. 18, with training camps starting Nov. 10, though teams were told to consider the free-agency date as flexible.
Some members of the board of governors whose teams were left out of the Orlando restart disagreed with the 22-team format but decided to cast “yes” votes.
Sources told ESPN the preliminary expectations on the league’s plans for the 22-team format in Orlando include:
- The regular season will extend 16 days, with five to six games per day.
- There will be four hours between games on each individual court to accommodate overtimes, cleanings and warm-ups. The league will be using three courts in the complex for games.
- In the eight-game regular-season format, each team is expected to play one back-to-back.
- The NBA is expected to be aggressive in moving up the dates to start playoff series when the previous round’s series come to an end.
- The NBA Finals format is expected to include games every other day.
The NBA G-League cancelled the remainder of the season. The Salt Lake City Stars were in first place in the Western Conference with a record of 30-12.
“While disappointing, we fully support the NBA G League’s announcement canceling the remainder of the 2019-20 season,” Stars president Jonathan Rinehart said. “We know this was an extremely hard decision driven by many factors, but a necessary one, as the health and safety of our community is paramount.
“I am grateful to our players, coaches and staff for their remarkable efforts and contributions over the course of the season, and especially to our fans and partners for their tremendous support. We would have enjoyed competing for a championship following the most successful season in Stars history, but now we turn our focus to returning to the court for the 2020-21 campaign.
“At the same time, we recognize that there are much larger issues of pain and trauma facing our country. We are committed to lending our voice to address systemic racial injustice and continuing to help those in need.”