After weeks of discussions and negotiations, the NBA is finally set to resume as they will be finishing out the 2019-20 regular season at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, with games expected to begin July 31.
The league discussed a number of different return-to-play scenarios, but they ultimately decided not to change things up too much by sticking with a regular 16-team playoff. There were 22 teams invited to Orlando to play, and there will be eight regular-season games for every team before playoff seeding is decided.
If the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in each conference are within four games of each other, they will have a play-in tournament to decide the final seed for the playoffs. That will likely affect the Los Angeles Lakers since they sit comfortably in the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference and will host the eight-seed in the first round barring any significant changes.
In addition to playoff scenarios, the league also spent a good amount of time discussing player safety, which is the No. 1 priority since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic began. Whenever games resume, the NBA will be taking all of the precautions necessary to ensure the virus doesn’t spread throughout the league again.
It was recently reported that the players will have strict restrictions when at the resort such as not being able to attend the amusement parks. They will not be quarantined to their rooms, however, as they will be allowed to do things such as eat at restaurants while physical distancing and play golf.
That’s good news for Lakers center JaVale McGee, who was concerned about the possibility of being stuck in a hotel room for upwards of three months, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“It was slightly concerning,” Lakers center JaVale McGee said. “Just because I don’t think people are going to do that. We’re grown men, first of all. Luckily that’s not how it’s going to be if it happens.”
They may not be quarantined to rooms, but players will still need to be cautious to avoid getting the virus and giving it to teammates. That is especially the case for a team with championship restrictions like the Lakers, meaning their leaders will have to be extra strict to keep players in check if needed.
All teams are expected to be staying at the same resort, and they will be allowed to have some family members with them at times. The focus remains on basketball though, so hopefully there aren’t any other issues between now and the end of the season.