There appears to be a resolution to how the NBA will conclude it’s regular season and hold it’s playoff competition for the 2019-20 season with a target start date of July 31.
There will a proposal for a 22-team return during a Board of Governors meeting this Thursday at 12:30 pm EST. The draft lottery and the combine are expected to take place in August. The plan that is being put forth by the league, has been shaped by feedback from various discussions that have taken place over the past three months.
The suggest 22-team format will take place at Orlando’s Disney World Resort and would consist of the 16 teams currently in a playoff spot, eight from each conference, and six additional teams that are just outside of a playoff spot. Those six teams are the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference, and the lone team in the east is the Washington Wizards.
There will also be a play-in tournament for the two eighth seeds that are available. According to ESPN, here’s how that is going to work. If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eight seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot. Simple. But things get a little tricky if the ninth seed is less than four games behind the eighth seed. In that case, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth.
Precautions have already been suggested, such as not being allowed to shower at arenas, bench players would sit in spread out rows, and inactive players would watch from the stands, and players can’t bring guests to Orlando until the playoffs begin.
It looks like LeBron James, who initially hated the idea of having to play in an empty arena, will have to get used to the new reality.
“We play games without the fans? Nah, it’s impossible,” the Los Angeles Lakers star told reporters. “I ain’t playing. If I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s who I play for. I play for my teammates, the fans, that’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there ain’t no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do. I ain’t ever played the game without no fans, ever, since I started playing ball,” he initially said in March before walking back those comments.