While the NBA has been shut down for more than two months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, discussions over a potential return have heated up of late.
There are a ton of logistics that need to be sorted out, but all signs point toward the season being finished at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
It’s currently unclear if all 30 teams will be asked to come back to finish out the regular season, or if the league will go with another format, such as beginning the postseason right away or bringing back some of the teams on the bubble to compete for the final few playoff spots.
According to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, it may only be Western Conference that sees teams beyond those in eighth place brought back to compete for a potential playoff berth:
There are playoffs-plus idea that includes 20 to 24 teams, with the NBA including more teams from the Western Conference than the Eastern Conference, sources said. The NBA is considering play-in possibilities with teams like New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento vying for the postseason, sources said.
As it currently stands, the Memphis Grizzlies have a comfortable 3.5-game lead for the eighth seed in the West. The Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs are all within four games of them though, and thus have a case to be in the mix if more regular-season games are played.
Whatever decision the NBA makes will directly affect the Lakers more than any other team considering they are the No. 1 seed in the West and would be matched up with the No. 8 seed. The NBA has also discussed re-seeding the playoffs to make it Nos. 1-16 overall as opposed to two separate conferences, although it doesn’t seem likely they would make drastic changes like that without prior notice.
Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard made headlines when he said that he would not play the remaining games if his team does not have an opportunity to make the postseason. Lillard also believes his team matches up with the Lakers better than any of the other bubble teams, which could make for some interesting drama if the NBA follows through with this play-in tournament.
Regardless, the fact that the league is beginning to figure out all of the minor details means that the likelihood that there will be a finish to the 2019-20 season is hight. That is great news for the entire league, but especially for the Lakers as they pursue their 17th championship.