The NBA Board of Directors has approved a 22-team format to start the series season at the end of July at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, another important step toward getting teams back on the court and playing games again.
The format requires each team to play eight games to determine seed kicking and eventual utilization of a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference field after the season. The National Basketball Players Association has a call on Friday to approve the plan as well.
“The board’s approval of the reboot format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents enormous challenges, we are hopeful to end the season safely and responsibly based on strict protocols that are now being finalized by public health officials and medical experts.”
At the same time, a person speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details of the ongoing talks have not been made public, said NBPA and the NBA continue to work on a “long” medical record document. The details of that document will be shared with teams when these discussions are completed, said the person, who added that teams should get them well in advance for them to prepare for their arrivals at the Disney-ESPN complex.
The NBA also said it plans to have a lottery draft Aug. 25, the draft on Oct. 15 and start next season Dec. 1.
If all 22 teams that come to Disney next month play their allotted eight games before the season starts, the NBA would play 1,059 games during this regular season. This means that 171 regular season games would be canceled, which could cost players about $ 600 million in salary.
The 22 clubs would play anywhere between 71 and 75 regular season games if the Disney portion of the schedule is complete, down from the regular 82-game disc. The teams that did not qualify for the restart see their seasons end after playing somewhere between 64 and 67 games.
But one of the biggest obstacles is now cleared, and if things go according to plan, an NBA champion for a season unlike anyone else will be crowned in October. The season can go into that month if the league continues with its plan for the same playoff rules as usual, with each game using the best-of-seven format.
Teams are likely to arrive at the Disney complex around July 7. Once there, the camps will continue and teams will likely have the chance to get some research or “preseason” games against other clubs before the regular season resumes.
Thursday’s move by the board of directors – one that came, at the time, the same day this season’s NBA final would have begun if it were normal times – was largely a formality. The NBA was considering countless restarts after canceling the season on March 11, whitled that list down to four opportunities last week and from there, the 22-team schedule quickly began to gain momentum.
The 22-team plan contains all teams that contained the playoffs when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games after a seasonal boat.
Milwaukee, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and reigning NBA champion Toronto had already finished the playoffs. Now with just eight games remaining for each team, that means eight other clubs – Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City and Houston – have safe places after the season and Dallas has practically one too.
That means that nine teams will compete for three remaining playoffs. In the east, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington are in the two-place competition. In the West, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix come for a spot.
If the gap between eighth place and ninth place in either conference is four games or less when the shortened regular season ends, these teams will go head-to-head for the No. 8 seed. The team in ninth place must go 2-0 in a two-game series to win berth; otherwise the No. 8 seed would move on to the season.
Thursday’s decision also means the seasons for Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, Golden State, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte are over. The Knicks will miss the playoffs for the seventh season in a row, the third-longest drought in the league behind Sacramento and Phoenix – which still has chances to enter the playoffs this season.
And when the Hawks don’t move on, it also means that Vince Carter has almost certainly played the final game of his 22-year NBA career – the longest in league history.
Carter, the first player in NBA history to emerge in four different decades, is retiring. He appeared in 1,541 NBA games, behind only Robert Parish (1,611) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) on the league’s all-time list.
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