With the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic still a serious issue, professional sports have been hamstrung regarding options on how and when to come back in a manner that makes sense for all parties involved.
The NBA was one of the first leagues to halt their seasons, but has since been incredibly proactive in trying to find solutions to the numerous problems the crisis has presented. Several proposals were in consideration, but the league has settled on a 22-team format and the season will officially be resuming in July.
It was a long journey, but the NBA was able to find a suitable bubble location in Walt Disney World that can reasonably accommodate each team’s travel parties as well as provide enough space for multiple basketball courts. A plan for testing for COVID-19 also seems to be in the works as the league is considering several options that should reduce time and resources.
With a competitive format and location settled on, the NBA also released a list of dates for the remainder of the season, with training camps coming later this month and teams traveling to Orlando in early July, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Sources: The NBA informed the Board of Governors of scheduled dates:
– Training camp: June 30, July 7 travel to Orlando
– 2019-20 season: July 31
– Free agency: Oct. 18
– 2020-21 targets: Nov. 10 training camp, Dec. 1 opening night (can remain fluid)
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 4, 2020
Players were recently allowed to go back to their training facilities to get on-court work done, and now will get a few more weeks before having to relocate to Orlando where they will get ample time to settle in and continue training. Having enough time for conditioning and practice were two major issues for the players, but this schedule seems to address that need.
Each team invited to the bubble will be playing eight regular-season games for seeding purposes, but the major change is the addition of a possible play-in tournament for the eight seed in both conferences.
If the ninth seed is within four games, a play-in tournament will be activated where the eight seed will need to win one game to keep its spot but the ninth seed can overtake it if they win two games.
This kind of modification to the playoff schedule is a decent compromise for borderline teams who were denied a chance to compete for a postseason spot. Meanwhile, the rest of the offseason will get a predictably late start as free agency and training camp will take place around the time the 2020-21 NBA season would have normally began.
Despite the changes, the fact of the matter is that basketball is officially coming back and that is reason to rejoice, especially amidst a pandemic.