For weeks, the question for the NBA and the 2019-20 season was a simple one: Would it happen? Now, though, as positive momentum has gathered and the league gets closer to the flashpoint at which it must make a decision, we’re beginning to see the contours of what the rest of the season might look like if it does, in fact, get back into action.
One league executive told Heavy.com that the league’s approach has been to finish some number of regular-season games before jumping into the playoffs. How to arrange that, though, remains an issue.
The magic number in the league is 70, with teams’ contracts with regional broadcast partners requiring 70 games to count as a full season.
“That’s one of the driving factors,” the executive said. “If you’re going to go through with the season, you’ve got to try to preserve as much of the revenue as you can and the revenue starts with fulfilling the TV contracts. Obviously, they’re not all the same but that’s important.”
The difficulty comes in finding an equitable way to get to 70 games.
In the Eastern Conference, for example, Atlanta has played 67 games. Four teams—Toronto, Boston, Brooklyn, and Washington—have played only 64.
In the West, the Lakers have played only 63 games, which includes a game against the Clippers that was postponed because of the death of Kobe Bryant. The Mavericks have played 67 games.
Should every team be required to play the same number of games—at least seven, to get to 70 for the year—post-hiatus? Or should every team be required to play only enough games to hit 70? Would playing more games be an advantage or a disadvantage?
Is the NBA Disney World Bound?
That’s a top issue to be worked out. Another is where, exactly, the NBA will conduct the rest of its season. It’s generally accepted that the league will carry out its season in at least one neutral site, more likely two. Las Vegas, home of the NBA’s Summer League, has been considered almost certain to be one of the locations if the league does come back.
But according to Yahoo!’s Keith Smith, the NBA could be going to Disney World.
As Smith reported on Twitter: “Sources from Walt Disney World tell me: ‘We are confident we’ll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case.’”
Sources from Walt Disney World tell me: "We are confident we'll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case."
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 20, 2020
And there was this, too, from Shams Charania of The Athletic, which lists Orlando as the favorite to host NBA games, with a potential start date of July 1:
Developing – Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort is on track to win the bid to become the NBA’s playing site to resume the 2019-20 season, with hope emerging of games tipping off by mid-July.
— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) May 20, 2020
NBA Recall Plan Expected Around June 1
The league is not expected to make a decision on a return to play this month. The NBA has been in the midst of a suspended season since March 11, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Commissioner Adam Silver made the decision to stop play based on the need to slow the spread of the disease.
This week, Pelicans general manager David Griffin told reporters, according to team reporter Jim Eichenhofer, “Adam Silver has made it clear that sometime between June 1 or June 15, he’ll make an announcement of some kind, about which direction we’re heading. I’m going to wait and take my cues from them.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe also reported on Wednesday that around June 1, teams expect the league to release its guidelines on bringing back players, who have been scattered around the country for the past two months, to begin getting ready for a return to play.
Sources: NBA teams expecting guidelines around June 1 for players' return https://t.co/vTugnAWlrJ
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2020