NBA commissioner Adam Silver appears to be close to figuring out a return-to-play option for the 2019-20 season.
There are still a number of obstacles to overcome, but Silver’s willingness to be flexible and commitment to the safety of the players has made for a fairly easy process. For now, it seems that the most likely scenarios involve playing the remainder of the season in a bubble.
The frontrunner for that setting is Disney World in Orlando, Fla., but other options like Las Vegas have been discussed. And while Silver and the Board of Governors are still unsure on exactly which teams will be going to the bubble, they want to ensure they keep the playoff schedule as is.
Silver will try to do everything in his power to keep the full playoff schedule of a seven-game series in each round, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
The NBA is hell-bent on crowning a champion, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver—who has handled this crisis as well as anyone could—intends to do everything possible to protect the integrity of the postseason, including having each round scheduled for the full seven games.
In a normal NBA season, an unaltered playoff schedule takes about two months to complete. The rumored start date for the continued season appears to be July 15, but that date is for the return of games, not the beginning of the playoffs.
If — in this potential return scenario — the playoffs would begin on Aug. 1, the season would not end until likely the beginning of October. Keeping the seven-game format is certainly what everyone wants, as anything less would bring about the asterisk conversation for any champion. However, for that to happen, the league needs to be prepared to play games until October.
Given the situation, it may be even more important for a team like the Los Angeles Lakers to take care of business quickly in the earlier rounds. The Lakers will — in all likelihood — be the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, and should be on the easier side of the bracket.
Their first-round matchup will likely be against the Memphis Grizzlies unless the NBA decides on a different format of deciding the bottom seeds. They then will face the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz. They won’t even needs to think about the L..A Clippers, Denver Nuggets or Houston Rockets until the conference finals.