‘A necessary step’: NBA’s Board of Governors approves vote for return to play amid COVID-19 and racial violence and injustice concerns
SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA is back. Or, at least it will be very soon.
The NBA announced that in a Thursday morning vote the NBA’s Board of Governors approved the previously reported 22-team format to resume the 2019-20 season. ESPN and The Athletic were first to report the news.
“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’s Board of Governors has voted to approve the league’s 22-team format to restart the 2019-2020 season in Orlando, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 4, 2020
The NBA’s proposed plan still has to have official approval from the National Basketball Players Association. The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported the NBA and NBPA will meet on Friday. The NBA and NBPA are also working with infectious disease specialists and public health experts to come up with guidelines that would lower the risk of COVID-19 infection or spread.
Additionally, in a release the NBA said “the season restart is also contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, as a single site for a campus for all games, practices and housing for the remainder of the season.”
The NBA has tentatively scheduled the season to resume on July 31. If that date is met then the draft lottery, originally scheduled in May, would be rescheduled for Aug. 25, the last possible date for a Finals Game 7 would be Oct. 12, and the NBA draft would be held on Oct. 15. The league is looking to start the 2020-21 NBA season on Dec. 1.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that teams would convene for training camp on June 30 and travel to Orlando on July 7. Free agency would begin on Oct. 18 and training camp for next season would start on Nov. 1.
Sources: The NBA informed the Board of Governors of scheduled dates:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 4, 2020
- Training camp: June 30, July 7 travel to Orlando
- 2019-20 season: July 31
- Free agency: Oct. 18
- 2020-21 targets: Nov. 10 training camp, Dec. 1 opening night (can remain fluid)
Twenty-two teams will head to Walt Disney World in Orlando to restart the 2019-20 season that was suspended on March 11 following Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus test.
The top eight teams in each conference, along with the teams that were within six games of the eighth seed will take part in what the NBA is calling the “competitive format plan.”
The plan includes each team playing eight regular-season games, called “seeding games.” If, after those games, the ninth seed in either conference is four or fewer games behind the eighth seed, there will be a play-in tournament for the playoffs in which the eighth seed will need to win once to advance and the ninth seed will need to win twice in order to take over the eighth seed and continue on.
The playoffs will be played out as they traditionally have, with four rounds of best-of-seven series until the 2020 NBA championship team is crowned.
The seeding games schedule will be selected from the remaining games a team had left during the original regular-season schedule.
Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Portland was the lone dissenting vote in a 29-1 approval of the league’s plan to resume play.
That vote comes as somewhat of a surprise as Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, said that if his team were to be invited to a format in which they were going to play games but have no chance to qualify for the playoffs, he would not play.
The 22-team format not only includes the Trail Blazers but also gives them a shot at earning the Western Conference’s eighth playoff position.
The 22 teams resuming the 2019-20 season are the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, 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 and the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference.