Yesterday (4 June) the National Basketball Association’s Board of Governors approved a competitive format for the restart of the 2019-20 season.
This marks the first formal step on the path to resuming play in the NBA, which has been suspended since March due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) are working together to build a comprehensive plan for the return of the season. Both say they are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to Covid-19.
The proposed format would see 22 teams return with a tentative start date of Friday, July 31. The plan is contingent on an agreement with the Walt Disney Company, allowing use of Walt Disney World Resort, Florida as a single site for all games, practices, and housing for the rest of the season.
The returning teams would be the sixteen teams in current playoff positions (eight per conference), and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver described the board’s approval as “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.”
The season’s suspension was announced on March 11 this year, after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19. Initially, the season was suspended indefinitely, for a minimum of thirty days. Today’s proposed restart format would see play resume over 140 days after the initial suspension.
If, as tentatively scheduled, the season resumes on July 31, then the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery would be rescheduled for August 25. The 2020 NBA Draft would then be held on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on December 1, 2020.
Under the proposed format for the 2019-2020 season, 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.
The 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.