The NBA has been actively working on a return-to-play plan for weeks. The league has been in active discussions with players, personnel and owners preparing to resume the 2019-2020. The league shuttered on March 11th in the wake of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for the coronavirus. Now, the NBA return is poised for July 31st.
Teams began opening facilities for voluntary player workouts in mid-May, although coaches couldn’t attend. Shortly thereafter, the league entered into negotiations with Disney about hosting the NBA return in something of a limited bubble.
Today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania have reported the NBA return has been all but finalized. Initially, several return-to-play formats were discussed, including 16 teams advancing directly to the playoffs; 20 teams with stage, Olympic-group style play; 22 teams with games for seeding and a play-in tournament; or 30 teams with 72 regular-season games and a play-in tourney.
But the proposal the NBA will put before its Board of Governors will see 22 teams travel to Orlando. Those teams, the 16 current playoff teams and the next six in the race, will play eight regular season games each. From there, a play-in tournament would take place for the eighth seeds, as long as there’s less than a 4.5 game gap between the No. 8 and No. 9 team. The tournament would be double-elimination for the 8-seed, and single-elimination for the 9-seed. From there, the playoffs would progress as per usual.