After months of deliberation and discussions with all parties involved, the NBA Board of Governors and Players Association voted on a return-to-play scenario for the 2019-20 regular season. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced a hiatus, but improvements in several areas allowed for a restart to feasibly happen.
The league intends to utilize the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the Walt Disney World grounds in Orlando, Fla., for arenas, practice facilities and lodging. Under the 22-team plan, each team invited to Disney World will play eight regular-season games for seeding purposes.
That potentially will be followed by a play-in tournament for the eight seed in both conferences if the ninth-place team is within four games of the final playoff spot. Along with the plan came a new schedule of target dates for the remainder of the year and included the start of the 2020-21 NBA season.
The initial date set was Dec. 1, but according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBPA does not anticipate that being the case:
The NBPA told players 2020-21 season starting on Dec. 1 is “unlikely” and plans to negotiate the date.
As things currently stand, the 2020 NBA Finals would end sometime in October and training camp for the following season would begin on Nov. 10, meaning teams who play deep into the playoffs would have roughly a month to rest.
This is an obvious concern as this could risk player health, but the league is trying to recoup revenue by playing as many games as possible.
The league calendar is something that needs to be agreed upon by both the NBA and NBPA, so there are likely going to be changes in the coming months to the proposed schedule. The short turnaround does not affect the teams whose seasons are already done, but those competing in the playoffs will definitely need more time to properly recover and get their bodies ready.
Aside from the start date of the 2020-21 regular season, there are several other details that both sides need to discuss regarding the current season’s comeback. Things such as COVID-19 testing methods, family visitation, player freedom to wander in and out of the bubble and a host of other items need to be considered prior to everyone moving to Orlando.
Regardless, this is a welcomed opportunity for the Los Angeles Lakers as they will now get their chance to compete for the 2020 NBA championship. The situation is not ideal, but they still are considered a favorite to win it all.