In recent weeks, the growing sense is that the 2019-20 NBA season is nearing a return as the league has been mulling over options on how to properly and safely bring back basketball.
Through a statement, the NBA acknowledged they have been in talks with Walt Disney World on using the location as a potential bubble location to host games, a clear sign there is real momentum on a decision being made. Disney World has the required resources to feasibly house teams and the capacity for multiple courts.
One of the remaining issues is the manner in how the season resumes because there are questions like how much training time do players need, how many regular-season games should be played and the playoff format itself. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, a survey was given to all 30 NBA general managers which outlined various options on the table:
— Advance directly to playoffs: (16 teams, four rounds, best-of-seven series) with postseason teams based on standings as of March 12
— A “Playoffs Plus” option: Expanding the number of teams with the opportunity to play, either through holding a play-in tournament to determine the final seed(s) in playoffs, to be played by “bubble teams” or replacing the first round of the playoffs with a group stage.
— If “Playoffs Plus” — how many teams should return to play: 18, 20, 22 or 24?
— Resume regular season with all 30 teams: All teams plays same number of games.
— Resume regular season with all 30 teams, plus play-in: All teams play same number of games, followed by play-in tournament for the final seed(s) and traditional playoffs.
— “Playoffs Plus” play-in format options: Play-in tournament featuring bubble teams for 8th seed; play-in tournament for 7th and 8th seed; or group stage that replaces first round of playoffs and all participating in groups (each team plays two games against each group opponent and top two teams from each group advances to traditional second round).
— Scrimmage games prior to any restart: 2, 3, 4, or 5
— Total regular season games: 72 or 76
— Playoff format: Traditional (East/West) or reseed all teams
— Latest possible date for finish: Labor Day, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, Oct. 15 or Nov. 1
The league gathering input from teams is a good sign that a return is right around the corner, but everything will be decide by the coronavirus (COVID-19) as safety and health are the main priority for everyone involved. While there are still details that need to be ironed out for each choice, it is still major progress compared to just a couple of weeks ago.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver appears to be right on track with his original two-to-four week timeline on a decision, so fans and the league will just need to remain patient as things continue to develop.