The National Basketball Association has been exploring return-to-play options for the last few months, and it appears that they are getting closer to announcing a final plan. Sources have indicated that NBA teams are expecting the league to issue guidelines on the return to play on June 1.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced in April that the league would unlikely make any decisions before June 1, and Silver has taken almost the entire time to devise a plan. Teams are expected to start calling their players after the announcement to get them back in their home city.
Most players went home to their offseason home during the shutdown, but a few teams have reopened their training facilities over the last few days. This announcement from the league will likely give every team the power to open their facilities in hopes that a return to play will happen soon.
The NBA season has been suspended since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the novel coronavirus. All of the other major professional sports in the United States soon followed, and none of them are back in action.
Team executives are expecting that the league will begin this process by allowing trainers and members of the coaching staff to begin training with the players. Some teams have allowed players to start training individually, but that has only been a handful of teams.
Plan On The Way
According to league sources, the NBA is expected to announce a formal plan that includes a very detailed, step-by-step process. The first step will be a two-week period where teams will be inviting their players back to their home markets for a period of quarantine.
The next step would be one to two weeks of individual workouts at these facilities, followed by a two- to three-week formal training camp. That would put the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season at some point in early July.
While other professional sports leagues are hoping to play games at their traditional home cities, that is not what the NBA is looking to do. Silver is looking into playing the remainder of the NBA season in one location, with all of the teams relocating there.
The two locations currently on the radar are Las Vegas and Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Silver is hoping to create a “campus-like” atmosphere with all of the players and team executives living together.
Las Vegas is the host of the NBA Summer League each year, and they have plenty of hotel space to accommodate all of the players. The problem is that Las Vegas is still largely shut down due to the pandemic, and they don’t have a clear timetable to reopen.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been a proponent of sports returning to the state, and he is welcome to bring in other sports and teams as well. Disney World would be a great location because it is a private resort, and outsiders would not be able to get in.
The NBA has also announced that members from all 30 teams and executives will also participate in an antibody study beginning in June. The Mayo Clinic has partnered with the Minnesota Timberwolves to conduct this test.
Players from Major League Baseball also participated in a coronavirus antibody study, and the results were stunning to medical experts. The results from this test of NBA players could give the league some additional information before announcing their return-to-play plans.
The 2020 NBA season was supposed to wrap up in June with the NBA Finals, but it sounds like the season won’t resume until July.