NBA to approve plan for 22-team return with eight regular-season games
- Updated: June 5, 2020
The NBA’s board of governors intends to approve a league proposal on a 22-team format to restart the season in Orlando, Florida, sources told ESPN.
The conference call and vote is set for 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday, sources said.
Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s advisory/finance committee have shared the broad details of a plan with teams to play at the Walt Disney World Resort, sources said. The plan includes 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams, eight regular-season games, a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed, and playoffs, sources said.
The top 16 teams in the Eastern and Western conferences will be joined by teams currently within six games of eighth place in the two conferences — New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix and Washington, sources said.
The play-in tournament will include the No. 8 and No. 9 teams — if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth, sources said. In that case, the No. 8 seed enters a double-elimination tournament and the No. 9 seed a single-elimination tournament, sources said.
Teams will begin training at team sites in July and advance to full training camps in Orlando later that month, sources said.
Among the eight teams left out of the Orlando format, several are disappointed and concerned about how a nine-month window between NBA games affects their teams competitively and financially, sources said.
For those teams left out of the playoffs — including Atlanta, Cleveland, Charlotte and Detroit — there has already been dialogue with the league urging mandatory summer training camps and regional fall leagues that could bridge the lengthy gap between seasons, sources told ESPN. Those are ideas many teams consider vital, and there is an expectation that the NBA will raise possible scenarios such as these with the players’ union, sources said.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are negotiating details of the return to play’s safety protocols and competition.
Life in the NBA bubble will be governed by a set of safety protocols. While players and coaches will be allowed to golf or eat at outdoor restaurants, they will also need to maintain social distancing, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
The NBA is planning to have uniform, daily testing for the coronavirus within the Disney campus environment, sources told ESPN. ESPN is owned by The Walt Disney Company.
If a player tests positive for the virus, the league’s intent would be to remove that player from the team to quarantine and treat individually — and continue to test other team members as they play on, sources said.
Employees at the Disney resort will have to maintain similar protocols. For example, no staff will be allowed into players’ rooms, and hallways will be carefully managed to avoid crowding, sources told Shelburne.
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.