NBA return to play: Here's what we know so far...
A proposed 22-team format
Wednesday brought some good news to Rip City! If the NBA approves the proposed plan to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams, the Trail Blazers will be one of those teams heading to Orlando’s Disney World Resort. Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix and Washington -- are all not currently in the NBA’s 16-team playoff bracket, but will all report to Orlando in addition to the playoff teams, according to several reports.
Each team would play eight ‘regular season’ games, (roughly half the number of games they had still slated on their 2019-20 schedules). The Top 7 teams from each conference will automatically qualify for the postseason. In an effort to make it fair to the teams that were not in the playoffs at the time the league suspended play, such as the Blazers, there will be a "play-in tournament" if need be. So, if after the eight games, the ninth seed is closer than four games behind the eighth seed, a playoff will be held.
Portland, Sacramento and New Orleans all currently sit three and a half games behind No. 8 Memphis.
Thursday at 9:30 PT Board of Governors will meet to vote on final plan
If all goes according to plan, the end of July will mark the Trail Blazers first game played since March 10. All signs point to the NBA's board of governors approving the league's proposal on a 22-team format to restart the season.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the conference call and vote on this current plan is set for 9:30 a.m. PT Thursday.
Orlando BUBBLE with games starting July 31st
Teams would then begin training at team's practice facilities in July and then hold full training camps in Orlando later in the month.
The reported plan includes restarting the NBA regular season on July 31st at ESPN’s Wide World Of Sports at the Disney World Resort.
The players, coaching staff, and all other personnel would live life in a 'bubble.'
From recent reports, the NBA is still figuring out what life in the NBA bubble will look like exactly. But according to ESPN, players and coaches will be allowed to golf while maintaining social distancing. And, they will only be allowed to eat at outdoor restaurants. Employees at the Disney resort will have to follow similar protocols. The NBA is also planning to administer daily testing for the coronavirus.
Trail Blazers schedule includes two games against Memphis Grizzlies under this format
When looking at the 22-format plan the league is proposing that teams continue their schedule as planned with the teams that will be in Orlando, according to Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill.
Presumably under this format, 9th-seeded Portland would face 8th-seeded Memphis twice.
Here are the Trail Blazers next eight games on the schedule with the teams that will be playing in Orlando:
Draft Lottery and Combine to take place in August
We can also expect the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery and Combine to start in August, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
On Thursday, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that NBA has set an August 25 Draft Lottery and October 15 NBA Draft.
NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin pointed out, a team such as the Washington Wizards could tank in Orlando to improve their lottery odds.
However, the league could decide to lock-in the lottery odds before play returns. The league has not yet announced if the lottery odds will be locked in or not as of when the NBA was suspended.
This is what the lottery odds look like now (with odds of No. 1 pick):
1. Golden State Warriors (14%)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (14%)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (14%)
4. Atlanta Hawks (12.5%)
5. Detroit Pistons (10.5%)
6. New York Knicks (9%)
7. Chicago Bulls (7.5%)
8. Charlotte Hornets (6%)
The NBA Finals Game 7 set for Oct. 12
As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday, the NBA’s proposed timeline as a last possible date for Game 7 of the 2020 NBA Finals would be Oct. 12.
If the series were to go to a decisive Game 7 it would be competing with Monday Night Football’s Chargers at Saints game.
The 2020-21 season will tentatively start on Christmas Day
If the NBA can successfully complete the 2019-20 season under this suggested structure, all signs point to the 2020 NBA draft being moved to October, with free agency to follow.
Thus, as of right now, the tentative plan to tip-off the 2020-21 season would be on Dec. 25.
Starting the season on Christmas Day has been the thought process since mid-March.
NBA votes, approves format for return to play
Thursday morning, the NBA Board of Governors voted and approve the 22-team return to play format!
The vote was 29-1 with the lone team voting against the format being the Portland Trail Blazers.
Here are key 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)