When the NBA suspended the 2019-20 regular season on March 11, there was uncertainty if or when it would be able to resume due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
While the coronavirus outbreak is still a serious issue, the league has made major progress in finding ways to restart the regular season, and the growing sense is it will happen within the coming months.
The biggest development was when news broke that the NBA was officially in discussions with Walt Disney World on making the site the official bubble location for teams to reside and play games in. The venue has enough space and resources to accommodate travel parties and game day operators, so on paper it appears to be the best option.
With a site seemingly close to being decided on, the next issue the league needs to tackle is the amount of actual games that will be played. Before the hiatus, each team had already completed north of 60 games.
It would be unreasonable for the NBA to jump right into the postseason without giving the players a chance to properly adjust to live game action, so it stands to that, the league would provide them the opportunity to do so. In an effort to address that, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that a target number of games is being discussed:
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association have discussed a model of 30 teams returning to reach a target goal of 72 regular-season games, sources said.
A 72-game total seems like an optimal amount as this would provide several games for teams to get their feet wet and re-acclimate to the rigors of NBA basketball. For teams already out of the playoffs, it would give them a chance to further evaluate their rosters and lock in their lottery positioning as well.
However, before games would be played there would need to be training period to help the players get back in shape. Jared Dudley and Danny Green have both voiced their concerns about needing ample time to get back into playing shape, and so far the NBA seems to be looking into a plan that would allocate a couple of weeks for strength, conditioning and practice.
Although nothing concrete has been announced, all these discussions are a clear sign that things are pointing in the right direction. It seems as though a return is just around the corner.