The NBA is back, but the Bulls won't be returning with it.
In advance of a Board of Governors call Thursday that is reportedly expected to culminate in owners approving a final plan for resuming the 2019-20 season, details on the league’s proposed regular season resolution and play-in tournament have emerged via multiple outlets.
Here’s the breakdown:
22 teams will be invited to Orlando, Fla. to complete the 2019-20 season. Target date of July 31 to resume, with a potential Game 7 of the NBA Finals falling on Oct. 12 (via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski)
Those 22 teams will be the current 16 playoff teams, plus all non-playoff teams within six games of their conference’s eighth seed — i.e. the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards (via Wojnarowski)
Each of the 22 teams invited will play out eight regular season games for seeding purposes (via Wojnarowski)
At the end of those games, if the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed is automatically awarded a playoff spot (via The Athletic’s Shams Charania)
If the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed, the two teams will play out a mini play-in tournament for the eighth seed. Single-elimination for the ninth seed, double-elimination for the eighth seed (via Charania)
Yes, that all adds up to no more Bulls games in the 2019-20 calendar.
The league had reportedly previously discussed a litany of alternative formats, including all 30 teams returning to resolve the regular season. Sources told NBC Sports Chicago that the Bulls expressed a desire to return if the league determined that a 30-team scenario was most beneficial, but emphasized safety concerns for the entire traveling party as their main priority.
Returning to play would have allowed the new management regime of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley to observe coach Jim Boylen in practice and game settings, as well as avoid the scenario of a young team going over nine months between games, given that the start of the 2020-21 season will be pushed back.
Still, the team has opened the Advocate Center for voluntary, socially distanced workouts with coaches. Karnisovas and Eversley were scheduled to travel to Chicago. Even if the Bulls don’t play basketball again this season, the evaluation process will continue for those players in Chicago.
Wojnarowski also reported that the draft and free agency are expected to occur sequentially in October. Though the 2020-21 season beginning on Christmas Day has been widely reported and speculated, two months and change is an incredibly tight window to squeeze the draft, free agency, summer league, training camps and a preseason — normally, roughly four months is allotted for the offseason, which includes a decompressatory month of August.
Regardless of those specifics, once again, the bounce of the lottery ball will be one to watch for Bulls fans.
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