In a move that will require a coin flip to determine if the fans who's lost their sport or the network's who've lost their revenue stream are more excited to here, the National Basketball Association's (NBA) team owners voted 29-1 to resume regular season play in a dramatically changed season structure necessitated by ongoing COVID-19 concerns. Though the players' union still needs to sign off on the move, if approved the plan would have the season resume on Friday, July 31, with 22 teams. The teams would consist of 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions, and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences. The games will take place at a single location (ESPN Wide World of Sports, outside of Orlando, FL), with a "bubble" environment for players, coaches, and staff to live in when not playing that would include an extensive regime of testing and monitoring.
Here's a look at how the calendar would break down: Training camp runs July 9-11; 2019-2020 season runs July 31-October 12; NBA Draft lottery runs August 25; NBA Draft – October 15; NBA free agency starts October 18; 2020-2021 training camp starts Nov. 10; and the 2021-2021 season would start December 1. The fourteen teams eligible for the NBA Lottery would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11. The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.
"The Board's approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season. While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways."
Here's Your Look at the NBA 2019-2020 Season Restart Plan
The 22 returning teams for the season restart would be the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers, LA 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 and Phoenix Suns from the Western Conference.
Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best-combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.
If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.
If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference (Team A) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference (Team B), then Teams A and B would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed, Team A would need to defeat Team B once and Team B would need to defeat Team A two games in a row.
The 2019-20 season would conclude with a traditional playoff format with best-of-seven series in the first round, conference semifinals, conference finals, and the NBA Finals (ending no later than October 12).