The NBA has been shut down since March 11, but it appears that the league is going to find a way to finish off the 2019-20 season. Commissioner Adam Silver has created a return-to-play plan, and he will present it to the league’s board of governors on Thursday.
According to league sources, the board of governors is expected to approve the plan that will be presented to them, and the league will resume play in Orlando, Fla. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will host all of the remaining games this season, and teams will be forced to relocate themselves and their family to the resort.
Even though the league has yet to make a formal announcement, sources are expecting that the plan will include bringing 22 teams to the resort. Under this format, the 22 teams would compete in some regular-season and play-in games to determine which teams make it into the playoff field.
The NBA will also need to convince league owners to go along with this plan, but it sounds like a majority of the owners are on board. Three-fourths of the owners would have to approve any plan before it becomes official, but the league is willing to support Silver’s plan to finish out the season.
Silver and the league have been exploring four different options to resume play, but one of the options has apparently been eliminated. The plan to bring all 30 teams to the resort in Orlando has been ruled out, and eight teams will be sitting the rest of the season out.
According to league sources, the 22-team plan would include all of the teams within six games of a playoff spot in each conference. That would include five teams from the Western Conference and just the Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference.
There is also a proposal on the table to bring just 20 teams to Orlando, and that could still be chosen before the vote that is taken on Thursday. Under this proposal, the Phoenix Suns and the Wizards would be eliminated from playoff contention.
The league is in favor of completing some regular-season games before beginning the playoffs in hopes of earning some revenue before the playoffs begin. Silver and league officials are also hoping to give teams in playoff contention a chance to compete for a final playoff spot.
The league is also looking at possibly changing the playoff format in an effort to finish the season in a short amount of time. Leagues and players from across the league have expressed the need to play in several regular-season games to tune up for the postseason.
All of the games would be played without fans in attendance, and the Wide World of Sports was chosen as a way to keep fans from interacting with the players. It’s unclear when players will be required to relocate to Orlando, but the league is hoping to begin games on July 31.
A majority of general managers recently voted on this plan, and they prefer that the regular season be scrapped and that the league go straight into the playoffs. Sixteen of the GMs were in favor of a 16-team field, and for the league to conduct a traditional playoff format.
General managers also expressed the need to have more flexibility in building their roster for the resumption of the season. Twelve GMs voted in favor of expanded rosters, while 16 GMs are hoping that the league will implement a new policy to replace sick or injured players.