Momentum is building for the return of NBA action. After honing in on Orlando as the most likely venue to host the end of the 2019-20 schedule and postseason, it appears the league is preparing to get creative with how they move forward.
Details still are being worked out as to how the league will move forward, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Kings might make the shortlist of teams invited to the Magic Kingdom to participate in the action.
Story includes continued conversations about a return-to-play that includes the 16-playoff teams -- plus the four Western Conference teams on playoff bubble: Blazers, Kings, Pelicans and Spurs. https://t.co/jNGtRvVUFJ— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 27, 2020
According to Wojnarowski's source, “teams have become increasingly skeptical of the league bringing back all 30 teams to complete the season.”
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While nothing is confirmed, the plan appears to be inviting the 16 teams that currently would qualify for the postseason and then a quartet of Western Conference clubs that are fighting for the eighth seed. The league has yet to decide on the exact path moving forward, but a play-in tournament, pool play bracket and a continuation of regular-season games all are under consideration.
When the league suspended play on March 11 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Kings were preparing to host the New Orleans Pelicans in one of the most important home games in Sacramento in over a decade.
In a virtual tie for the ninth spot with the Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers and three-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final postseason berth, the Kings had 18 remaining to make a move.
Memphis was facing the toughest schedule in the league down the stretch and already had lost tiebreakers against both the Kings and Pelicans. The Kings and Blazers split their season series and the Kings trailed the Pelicans 0-1 with two more games still on the schedule.
The Kings was playing their best basketball of the year at the time of the shutdown. They were 13-7 in their last 20 games. Richaun Holmes was playing his way back into game shape after missing 25 games with a shoulder injury and Marvin Bagley was on the mend as well.
The Kings aren’t the only team that was playing well. Memphis and New Orleans both were 11-9 over their previous 20 games and the Blazers were at an even .500 over that stretch.
In addition to the Kings, Pelicans and Trail Blazers, the San Antonio Spurs were just four games behind the Grizzlies at the time of the shutdown. Gregg Popovich’s crew was scuffling a bit, posting a 7-13 record over their previous 20.
The Kings have yet to make a statement on a potential return, instead deferring to the NBA’s spokesman for comment.
Roughly half of the team currently is in Sacramento and according to a league source, most of those players have been at the practice facility for scheduled individual workouts over the last few weeks.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, there is hope that teams will hold in-market training camps in July with a potential restart set for late July or early August in Orlando.
Sources: The NBA is working on multi-phase medical/safety protocols toward restart of play. Current projections have in-market training camps in July, then camps/scrimmages in Orlando, then resume play late July/early August.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 27, 2020
Players who were currently outside of the United States will be allowed back in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said, according to Charania.
Nothing is written in stone, but there is positive movement for a return of NBA basketball. It won’t include fans, but there is growing optimism that the Kings will be part of any ramp-up.