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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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Many Wizards players plan to wear social justice messages on back of jerseys

Many Wizards players plan to wear social justice messages on back of jerseys

The NBA's initiative allowing players to wear social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, instead of their last names, in Orlando is being fully embraced by members of the Washington Wizards.

Ian Mahinmi and Moe Wagner have said they will wear 'vote.' Troy Brown Jr. and Jerome Robinson will wear 'Black Lives Matter.' Shabazz Napier says he has chosen 'equality' as his message.

RELATED: WAGNER TO WEAR 'VOTE' ON JERSEY

Every Wizards player who has been asked during media availability from Disney World so far has committed to participating. Their reasons are specific to the person, but they are in unity when it comes to the overall message.

"I play 82 games with my name on the back of my jersey," Brown said. "To have an opportunity to put something that I truly believe in and that needs to be addressed on the back of my jersey, I took that opportunity and am definitely going to make the most of it."

"I think for me, I will put 'Black Lives Matter' on the back of my jersey just because that is the biggest symbol of representation of what we have going on right now," Robinson said. "Through the whole quarantine, with the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the amount of people that were murdered for no reason at all, or for terrible reasoning; I think it's the biggest symbol on one of the biggest platforms."

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In asking the players, it's clear they thought deeply about which message to choose. The NBA gave them options that also include 'justice' and 'I can't breathe.' 

For Napier, there were many layers to his decision to wear 'equality.'

"I think in this world, in this moment right now, we're fighting amongst each other, whether it's black or white or women or men. I think for us to understand that everybody should be held at an equal standard, no matter the race and no matter the gender. That speaks loudly to me. I was raised by my mother only, so I understand the trials and tribulations that women go through on a daily basis to a certain extent," he said.

"I think that it's very important that as much as the [racial issues] we are dealing with at the moment, it's the same for gays and their equal rights. I think equality means a lot. I think if we get that down, sooner or later things will come to fruition and we will live in a positive world."

There has been some debate about whether the NBA returning will be a negative distraction to the social justice matters percolating around the country. But the Wizards plan to make the most of their platform in Orlando, hoping to raise more awareness for the causes they believe in.

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Wizards players react to teammates contracting coronavirus

Wizards players react to teammates contracting coronavirus

Though the percentages may be lower for young, well-conditioned athletes, coronavirus remains a real threat to NBA players and the Washington Wizards were served a reminder of that this week with the reported positive tests for Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II.

Forward Troy Brown Jr., who is close with Bryant, said he has talked to his friend and teammate since he came down with Covid-19. He believes Bryant will be able to join the team in Orlando before too long.

"I talked to him a little bit. It's just more so day by day," Brown said. "I don't think it was anything other than just him doing normal stuff [when he contracted it]."

Guard Jerome Robinson is with the Wizards at Disney World, taking their team flight down on July 7. But he says the decision to play was not a simple one.

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Robinson felt uneasy about the risk of being around people and playing basketball during the worldwide pandemic.

"There was some thought [of not going]. For the most part, for me my concerns were just the safety of it all. It's a deadly virus and we don't have a vaccine," he explained.

"It was kind of scary being around my family and things like that. I don't want to get put in a circumstance where we all get it our I get it or things of that nature, [especially] any elder. The biggest thing is how can we be safe during this whole thing."

Robinson is 23 years old and an NBA player in tip-top shape. But he has read enough of the news to realize, though the odds are lower, the possibility remains for someone of his age and health to be affected by the virus.

"Even us, being young people, you don't want to be that one because it can happen. It's a deadly virus and it's something that we have to take seriously," he said.

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