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NBA 2020 season update: Dates, format, playoffs, participating teams

NBA 2020 season update: Dates, format, playoffs, participating teams

While it seemed as though all hope for the 2019-20 NBA season was lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commissioner Adam Silver and the NBPA worked tirelessly to establish a season restart, and here we are. 

22 teams have been invited to Walt Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida to hopefully crown an NBA champion. 

Here's everything you need to know about the season officially returning. 

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What date will the NBA return? 

The NBA season now has a firm return date of July 30, 2020. Teams will start their respective training camps on June 30, then report to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida on July 7 for training to begin July 9. From that point, teams will have another three weeks to work back into basketball shape before tip-off on July 30.

Opening night in Orlando will be star-studded as Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans get action started against the high-flying Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. Things definitely don't slow down after that as the Battle of L.A. takes on Orlando with the Lakers and Clippers facing off in an epic showdown. 

Opening Night Schedule - July 30:

6:30 p.m EST - Utah Jazz (41-23) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) 

9:00 p.m. EST - LA Clippers (44-20) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (49-14)

Wizards Opening Night - July 31:

4:00 p.m. EST - Phoenix Suns (26-39) vs. Washington Wizards (24-40)

What teams will be playing in the season return?

The season restart will feature 22 teams:

Western Conference

  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Utah Jazz
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Houston Rockets
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Phoenix Suns
     

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Eastern Conference

  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Boston Celtics
  • Miami Heat
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Orlando Magic
  • Washington Wizards
     

What will the remainder of the regular season look like? Playoffs?

The NBA will return on an eight-game schedule to finish the regular season. Teams will progress through the schedule as they were prior to the season shutting down, skipping games in which they would matchup against a team that didn’t make the 22-team bubble. The eight-game regular-season allows bubble teams the opportunity to draw within four games of the No. 9 spot, to trigger a potential play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed. 

More details have tricked in from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, citing multiple sources: The "regular season" portion is expected to last 16 days. That means five-to-six games per day with each team playing one back-to-back.  

The No. 8 seed will have to be defeated twice by the No. 9 seed in order to give up its playoff spot, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. The No. 9 seed will be eliminated with a single loss to the No. 8 seed. 

The playoff format will remain the same with Game 7 of the NBA Finals held no later than October 12. Games would be every other day, according to Wojnarowski. 

What does this mean for the Wizards?

The Wizards will head to Orlando as the ninth-seed in the East and 5 1/2 games back from the No. 8 Magic. But they only have to close the gap to within four games to force a play-in tournament for the playoffs. If they beat the No. 8 team twice without losing, they get in.

While some have wondered if they will go to Orlando simply to give young guys minutes, if they would not worry about wins in attempt to preserve their draft position, the Wizards say their goal is clear: go all-in on the postseason.

It's definitely an uphill battle but we're here to tell you that there's a chance. 

What Wizards players are participating and which are opting out?

As of July 7:

  • Davis Bertans - Forward
  • John Wall - Point Guard
  • Bradley Beal - Shooting Guard


The Wizards have only been informed by forward Davis Bertans and point guard John Wall that they will not be participating in the NBA restart. Davis Bertans has "a lot at stake" as he's coming up on a free agency period where he'll be one of the most highly sought after players on the market. 

Wall is still in the process of rehabbing from a ruptured Achilles, which he had surgically-repaired last February -- so his decision to not join the team in Orlando doesn't come as a surprise and his 2019-20 season is officially over

On July 2, Bradley Beal told reporters that he had "some nagging stuff at the end of the year we are trying to clean up, too," in regards to whether or no he would participate in the NBA restart. Five days later, Beal officially announced his decision not to travel to the bubble with the rest of his team due to a right rotator cuff injury he had been dealing with for most of the season. 

“This was a difficult decision and one that I did not take lightly as the leader of this team,” Beal said. “I wanted to help my teammates compete for a playoff spot in Orlando, but also understand that this will be best for all of us in the long term. I appreciate the support of my teammates, the fans and the entire organization and look forward to returning next season to continue the progress we have made.”

Beal opting out of playing in Orlando definitely jumpstarts the Wizards plans for next season -- NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes detailed five huge takeaways from Beal's decision, including how it impacts the draft lottery (or the lack thereof). 

2020 NBA League Schedule

The Washington Wizards have received their new schedule to close out the 2019-20 regular season following the NBA's hiatus and it is not an easy road. They have eight games remaining and, because the league is only bringing 22 teams to Orlando, FL, they will only face teams either in the playoff picture or right outside of it.

Because so much is riding on the eight seeding games, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes broke down one thing to watch for in each one. 

Washington so far this season played the easiest schedule in the NBA with a combined opponent win percentage of .478, according to ESPN's RPI rankings. But in Orlando, as they play out the final eight games of the adjusted regular season, they will face a much tougher road. The toughest remaining schedule to be exact. 


How will the NBA handle potential cases of COVID-19?

While the league has a plan to return, obstacles still remain. One will be determining what to do if a player were to test positive for COVID-19. Considering the close atmosphere of those involved, could one diagnosis derail the entire plan or force a team to drop out? 

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, that isn't the mindset as of now. On TNT's Inside the NBA, Silver told Charles Barkley that the league is confident one case would not cause an overwhelming problem. Working with health and league officials, Silver is confident that the NBA will have the right precautions in place and players can be isolated depending on the circumstances. He also says testing will be done continuously.

"The belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive," Silver said. 

Additionally, masks will still be required on campus except in certain circumstances, Yahoo's Chris Haynes reports.

When will players return to team markets? And what happens then?

Prior to heading to Orlando, players will need to report to individual team markets and facilities. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, players who are currently outside of the United States need to be back by June 15. Those in the country will need to report to team markets by June 22.

Following the report dates, Wojnarowski reports that teams may begin participating in voluntary workouts that can include the head coach on June 23.

Will there be a training camp?

Yes, once teams get to Orlando the NBA won't just jump right into the season. ESPN"s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that from July 9-29, teams will train in Orlando and even participate in three intersquad scrimmages. Then, the real action will begin on July 30. 

What happens to players who don't want to participate?

Reports have surfaced that some players are hesitant to restart the season both due to health concerns as well as basketball taking away from the protests and needed change in America. Should players on participating teams opt to not partake in the season, The Athletic's Shams Charania reports that those individuals must notify teams by June 24.

Additionally, the players would have their compensation reduced by 1/92.6 for each game that is missed.

What if a player leaves Orlando once the season resumes?

If a player were to leave the campus for some reason, The Athletic's Shams Charania reports that there is a detailed plan in place. Players would be subjected to a coronavirus test, 10-14 quarantine period as well as reduced compensation for games that are missed during that time. 

When is the NBA Lottery and Draft?

Your team not involved in the return-to-play verdict? No worries. The league set August 25 as the day for the NBA Draft Lottery and October 15 for the NBA Draft. LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, headline this year's class. Which prospect will go number one overall? 

What about Free Agency?

According to the Athletic, the NBA intends to start free agency on October 18th. It could go quickly, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reports. 

When will the 2020-2021 NBA Season start?

While a start date has been discussed amongst the NBA Board of Governors, a firm one hasn't been set just yet. The NBA is targetting November 10 as the start of next season's training camp, and December 1 for opening night. These dates remain fluid according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. 

What happens to the 2020 G-League season?

While the NBA is on track to resume, the G-League will not. The league has made the decision to cancel the remainder of the 2020 season, it announced on Thursday. A plan for the 2020-21 G-League season has not yet been determined, but it will most likely coincide with the NBA's future plans.

What happens if a player leaves the Orlando bubble?

If a player decides to leave the quarantined bubble at the ESPN World Wide of Sports complex it's mandatory that they are quarantined for no less than 10 days, and must have two negative coronavirus tests, Shams Charania reported Monday afternoon.

How long will teams be in Orlando?

14 of the 22 teams in attendance will be eliminated within 53 days of arriving, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks reported Thursday evening. Only four teams will remain after 67 days.

This story will be updated as more details emerge. 

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NBA All-Star Mock Draft: LeBron the obvious first pick

NBA All-Star Mock Draft: LeBron the obvious first pick

Last year, the NBA unveiled a new format for the All-Star Game, one in which teams are chosen by captains regardless of conference. The early returns were good, as it added intrigue to the annual showcase.

But last year we didn’t get to actually see the players get picked. This time around, that won’t be the case as the league is set to air the draft live on TNT this Thursday, Feb. 7.

As we all wait for what should be an entertaining event, our Wizards Insiders Chase Hughes and Ben Standig went through their own mock draft. 

They played by the same rules that captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will abide by when they make their picks this week: We alternated first picks between three pools of starters, reserves and the legacy All-Stars, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.

Since Hughes got the imaginary fan vote, he will go first…

STARTERS

1. LeBron James, Lakers – CH: I’ll kick this thing off by taking the best player on the planet when healthy. Easy pick. Hopefully, he has prepared his sales pitch for Lakers trade targets.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks – BS: Let’s get freaky with the lengthy Greek import and leading MVP candidate this side of James Harden. Whether he plays center or forward for my team, Giannis will play, play and play some more.

3. Stephen Curry, Warriors – CH: I could do a lot worse with the first non-captain pick than the best shooter of all-time.

4. Kevin Durant, Warriors – BS: the All-Star game is about getting buckets and nobody does that better from more angles than the kid from PG County.

5. Joel Embiid, Sixers – CH: For some reason, even though this is an All-Star Game and defense is discouraged, I still feel like I need a rim protector.

6. James Harden, Rockets – BS: Alexa, please draft the player scoring at an unfathomable pace only equaled historically by Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.

7. Kawhi Leonard, Raptors – CH: You know, they actually do play defense sometimes in the final minutes of All-Star games. Assuming that happens, I will have arguably the best wing defender to deploy.

8. Paul George, Thunder – BS: Ha, Chase thinks he just drafted the best wing defender. I know I just drafted the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, not to mention an MVP candidate.

9. Kyrie Irving, Celtics – CH: James and Irving in the same locker room will give them plenty of time to plot their reunion to take another shot at Golden State.

10. Kemba Walker, Hornets – BS: You can have Uncle Drew. See, the 2019 All-Star game is being held in Charlotte. Walker is the best player on Charlotte’s NBA team. In other words, I just drafted home-court advantage.

RESERVES

11. Anthony Davis, Pelicans – BS: Sorry, LeBron. You don’t get “The Brow” just yet. We’ll have security guarding the locker room just in case you come knocking. Send a text.

12. Russell Westbrook, Thunder – CH: That’s right. Embiid and Westbrook on the same team. Let’s have some fun.

13. Bradley Beal, Wizards – BS: Beal “deserved” the other starting guard slot opposite Kyrie. He certainly tops Ben Simmons to the point I didn’t consider the 76ers guard here. I’m sure you concur. Oh, wait…

14. Ben Simmons, Sixers – CH: Now I just need you to not pick Blake Griffin and my team can really be the best.

15. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets – BS: Wait, now I land the game’s best passing big man after drafting all kinds of shooters? Not even Bill Belichick could slow down the offensive arsenal I’m putting together.

16. Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves – CH: Dang. I wanted Jokic. I’m going to have to settle for another ridiculously skilled big man.

17. Damian Lillard, Blazers – BS: Portland wins lots and lots despite not having some crazy talented roster. The Blazers do have a crazy good point guard. Now, so does Team Ben.

18. Klay Thompson, Warriors – CH: I have Curry, Thompson and Irving. I hope you like giving up threes.

19. Blake Griffin, Pistons – BS: Well, rats. I hoped the player voted “Best sidekick for a long road trip” would make it past you. Instead, let’s go with the power-packed forward revving up the Pistons this season.

20. Kyle Lowry, Raptors – CH: Darn. You picked Griffin. Fine, I will take Lowry just in case defense is needed though we all know it won’t be.

21. Khris Middleton, Bucks – BS: Fun fact: Milwaukee acquired Middleton in a 3-for-1 trade that sent ex-Wizard Brandon Jennings to Detroit.

22. LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs – CH: Aldridge is a sneaky-solid Hall of Fame resume. It sounds crazy, but he has had a really good career.

23. D’Angelo Russell, Nets – BS: This means I determine who is picked last among the 24 players selected to the All-Star. Apologies, Nikola Vucevic. To paraphrase the popular yet often mocked rock group, “Smash Mouth,” you’re still an All-Star.

24. Nikola Vucevic, Magic – CH: It was bound to be a first-time All-Star to get picked last. Oh well. Sorry, Nikola.

LEGACY

25. Dwyane Wade, Heat – CH: Hard to pick a favorite between these guys, but Wade is still productive so he gets the nod. Also, Gabrielle Union on my side seems like good luck.

26. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks – BS: I’m excited to ask the seventh leading scorer in NBA history what it was like defeating LeBron and Wade in the 2011 NBA Finals. The coolest part is Nowitzki getting to relive that specific triumph in the 2019 NBA All-Star game.

FULL TEAMS

Hughes: James, Curry, Embiid, Leonard, Lowry, Westbrook, Simmons, Towns, Thompson, Lowry, Aldridge, Vucevic, Wade

Standig: Antetonkounmpo, Durant, Harden, George, Walker, Davis, Beal, Jokic, Lillard, Griffin, Middleton, Russell, Nowitzki

Chase Hughes contributed to this story. 

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2019 NBA All-Star Game: Full rosters announced including Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

2019 NBA All-Star Game: Full rosters announced including Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

The 2019 NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday night with Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal included on the Eastern Conference roster. The full pool of 24 players is now set for the All-Star draft, set for Feb. 7.

Beal is in a group of East reserves that includes first-time All-Stars Ben Simmons, Khris Middleton and Nikola Vucevic. Pacers guard Victor Oladipo was also included, meaning one spot should open up due to injury.

The West reserves are highlighted by Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard. Despite being a rookie sensation, Luka Doncic of the Mavericks did not make the cut.

In next month’s draft, team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will each pick 11 players for their squad, regardless of conference. They will then play in the annual showcase on Feb. 17, this time in Charlotte, NC.

Here are the full rosters for each conference, including the starters which were announced last week…

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Starters:

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (capitain)

Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

Joel Embiid, Sixers

Kyrie Irving, Cetlics

Kemba Walker, Hornets

Reserves:

Bradley Beal, Wizards

Ben Simmons, Sixers

Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Kyle Lowry, Raptors

Blake Griffin, Pistons

Khris Middleton, Bucks

Nikola Vucevic, Magic

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Starters:

LeBron James, Lakers (captain)

Kevin Durant, Warriors

Paul George, Thunder

Stephen Curry, Warriors

James Harden, Rockets

Reserves:

Anthony Davis, Pelicans

Klay Thompson, Warriors

Damian Lillard, Blazers

Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Russell Westbrook, Thunder

LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

 

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