The NBA is on track for a July 31 return, with 22 of its 30 teams headed to Orlando, Fla., for a resumption of their season that’s been on hold since March 11 because of the coronavirus crisis.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will present his restart plan to the league’s board of governors during a conference call Thursday morning, where the plan is expected to be approved, according to people familiar with the situation. The players’ union also needs to approve the plan.
The 22 teams — the 16 currently in playoff spots plus Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix and Washington — will play an eight-game regular season schedule before the start of the postseason. If the ninth-place team is within four games of the eighth-place team, the two teams will have a play-in tournament for the final spot. The ninth-place team would need to beat the eighth-place team twice to advance.
Teams would still be seeded by conference.
The league is still working with teams on fixed dates for arrival in Orlando — there’s hope a deal could be finalized soon with Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which has three facilities with multiple courts, including an arena and field house. Teams will be instructed to limit members of their traveling parties to essential staff only.
The plan is a massive undertaking that will reportedly require 15,000 tests for the coronavirus, rapid processing of those tests and contingencies for players and staff who test positive.