The NBA season remains shut down for the foreseeable future, but the question remains. How is the league going to play out this season once it can get players back on the court?
Some NBA executives have one idea in mind, according to Mark Berman of the New York Post.
A possible coronavirus endgame? 30 teams, one arena, no fans
Per the Post, a group of executives are keen on the idea of arranging for the season to be played out at a single location:
Though news of the coronavirus pandemic has been discouraging, NBA executives still cling to hope of arranging a one-site, fan-less, 16-team playoff and a five-to-seven-game regular-season prelude, according to multiple NBA sources.
“They’re very determined to have a champion,” one industry source said.
The playoffs could be reduced to a slew of best-of-three series across the board. A single-elimination format has been all but ruled out — only under consideration as a last resort.
“Nothing is off the table,” another league official said.
As far as where this could happen, one natural answer is UNLV in Las Vegas, which has hosted summer league games and is in a city with a massive hotel capacity. Berman also reports that there have been talks about the Bahamas, Orlando, Atlantic City, Hawaii and Louisville for the playoffs.
ESPN’s Jay Williams threw out another idea earlier Monday: cruise ships.
They key number at play here is 70 regular season games, as regional networks reportedly have contracts calling for at least 70 games for local teams. All teams are currently around the mid-60s in games played, though many of those games have been nationally televised.
The reported best-case scenario is starting up the season in late June — in line with past reports — and delaying the opening of the 2020-21 season to Christmas. The NBA draft would also be postponed in such a situation.
Premier League has discussed similar coronavirus plan
The English Premier League has reportedly discussed a similar plan of playing out the season in isolation.
In that plan, players and key staff would be quarantined in separate hotels while waiting for their matches. Of course, such a plan carries several drawbacks.
For starters, such a system would isolate players from their families. A single positive coronavirus test could also cause the whole system to collapse. And then there are the ethical questions of what happens when a player suffers a run-of-the-mill injury. Hospitals remain slammed by the coronavirus and could still be in a bad state by the time the NBA returns.
But that’s where the sports world finds itself in the coronavirus pandemic. Teams want to start playing again. Fans want to watch them. Employees want financial security. At the end of the day, finding a way to play games that minimize risk for players and eliminate risk for spectators — by barring them from games — might be the least-bad option left.
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