The NBA has a solid plan now to restart its season and start playoffs … and the NBA title will come through Orlando!
That doesn’t mean the hometown Magic are a strong title contender.
The league’s board of governors has reportedly voted to approve the league’s 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, using the Disney sports facility’s three multi-court arenas.
This comes days after Major League Soccer signed off on a plan to play out its season with a tournament-style draw later this year as well.
The basketball season could start back up in late July with teams in playoff contention playing eight more games before playoffs start in August, with an NBA champion crowned in early to mid-October. The playoff could possibly include a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in each conference.
The NBA suspended its season the night of March 11, the first pro league to take that step in the wake of what was then the growing coronavirus pandemic. Nearly every other professional and collegiate league followed suit over the following 36 hours.
The league’s tentative plan brings 13 Western Conference and nine Eastern Conference teams to Orlando to finish the year and determine playoff seedings. The Orlando Magic, currently in the 8th seed in the East, would be one of the last playoff teams.
Players, coaches and league personnel would stay on Disney property fairly “bubbled” at Coronado Springs Resort. They will be able to leave the hotel to eat at outdoor restaurants and play golf at a Disney course.
And of course, health guidelines will rule the roost, with social distancing and frequent testing occurring. Any player testing positive would be quarantined from the team and that team facing extra testing to see if there are any other positives.
The NBA has yet to release a statement as of Thursday afternoon, but sources say teams could begin training camps in their own facilities June 30, travel to Orlando July 7 and resume play on July 31.
A pro sports survey analysis recently estimated that ESPN, the NBA’s broadcast partner, would lose $481 million in ad revenue if the the league did not complete its season and playoffs.
Among other parts of the NBA’s schedule going forward: The draft lottery would be held Aug. 25, with the Draft set for Oct. 15.