As the world continues to navigate the unexpected grim reality that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has presented, the NBA is struggling to find ways to resume basketball activity.
After several players tested positive for the novel coronavirus, preventing future infections and keeping them healthy is of the utmost importance for the league, but that raises several logistical questions that must be addressed.
Finding a neutral site to house players, team personnel and officials is a challenge in itself, but testing must also be readily available for everyone involved.
Despite the circumstances, Adam Silver and the league are still determined to resume the 2019-20 NBA season. They have reportedly been hard at work coming up with a plan that takes into account any and all possibilities, but that is difficult given all the uncertainty about the virus and how the government will react.
One of the issues concerns teams on the bubble for the postseason as several teams were in the running for the final spot in the playoffs before the season was put on hold. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Silver acknowledged a play-in tournament could be implemented during a conference call with the NBA Players Association:
Silver expressed a desire that the NBA complete its season with a traditional playoff structure that includes seven-game series in each round of the playoffs, but he left open the possibility of play-in tournaments to accommodate more teams in resumption of a shortened season.
Silver did not expand on the idea of a play-in tournament, but it is an intriguing solution as it would provide a fair opportunity for borderline playoff teams to earn their spot. How many games and how many teams would be things that would need to be considered, but it does seem like a logical option in the event that the regular season is unable to continue.
While a play-in tournament would be an exciting way for teams to fight for a playoff spot, it does raise some concern about subjecting players to extra games that could put them at more risk of contracting the coronavirus. One more infected player would cause another shutdown and at that point it is hard to imagine the NBA being able to go on any further.
These are troubling times for professional sports with so many variables to consider and each passing day without any answers only fuels the possibility that they might not be able to come back in the near future.