As the NBA works toward resuming the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league reportedly is zeroing in on a location for where it could finish play.
Walt Disney World in Orlando is the “clear frontrunner” for the NBA’s playing site, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. Other locations such as Las Vegas and Houston have also been considered, but the report says Orlando would be the “sole host.”
Keith Smith of Yahoo! Sports laid out the case for Disney World as an ideal location back on April 16, citing the infrastructure already in place. There are plenty of options for team housing as well as basketball courts that would already be set up with broadcast capabilities. The NBA and Disney also already have a working relationship. Disney owns ESPN and ABC, broadcast partners of the league.
While commissioner Adam Silver reportedly told the NBA’s Board of Governors that he is not expecting a “medical bubble,” testing will obviously be a large part of the league returning to play. The NBA has researched several methods, including “group testing,” per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. This would allow the league to test a large number of people with just a few tests. O’Connor reports that the NBA is also contributing to a nationwide antibody study done by the Mayo Clinic.
The league has allowed teams to begin individualized workouts at practice facilities where state restrictions have been loosened. Unfortunately for the Sixers, New Jersey, which houses the team’s practice facility in Camden, is not among the states that have done so.
In a conference call with reporters back on May 5, GM Elton Brand said his team won’t fall behind and presented an alternative if the Sixers are unable to practice in New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
“We’ll definitely make sure our players are not at a disadvantage when the season starts,” Brand said. “We’re looking to access New Jersey and Pennsylvania as they’re loosening the stay-at-home mandates. But also, we have a great facility right in Wilmington, Delaware, that our G-League team, the Blue Coats, play in and practice in. It’s really state of the art. We have backup plans ready and available for our guys when they need it and when it’s deemed safe.”
There are also reportedly discussions for when teams can "expand workouts."
While Silver has said that the league is still weeks away from a decision on whether to resume the season, The Athletic story reports that the current target is to start team training camps by mid-June and resume play by mid-July.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, "Barring an unforeseen turn of events, many NBA owners, executives and National Basketball Players Association elders believe commissioner Adam Silver will greenlight the return to play in June -- with games expected to resume sometime before the end of July."
While the Athletic characterized Disney World as the frontrunner location, ESPN reported that the league "is still considering a two-site format for the return of the season, including Orlando's Walt Disney World and Las Vegas."
There are still plenty of questions and hurdles, but it appears the NBA could finish its season at “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
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