Momentum is building for the return of the NBA. On the same day that Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that NBA superstars have started organizing themselves via conference call to present a united front for the restart of the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that NBA owners are feeling “increasingly positive” about resuming play this season following a conference call with commissioner Adam Silver.
Plans focused on health and safety
According to Wojnarowski, Tuesday's conference call was focused on health and safety amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. Testing was the major concern, and not just the availability of tests, but the possibility of a player or staff member testing positive after the NBA has restarted.
Discussions centered on health and safety concerns, including the goal of getting team officials and players comfortable with the idea that a positive test for the coronavirus upon a return would not shutter play.
Silver told those on the call that if a positive test would "shut us down, we probably shouldn't go down this path."
Silver is trying to set the expectation that someone will likely test positive after the NBA restarts (if it does restart), and that everyone should be prepared for that. The NBA shut down March 11 after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert showed up to a game with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Gobert tested positive, and the NBA shutdown started a domino effect in the sports world.
Wojnarowski reported that once there is a plan in place to resume the season, the NBA intends to standardize COVID-19 testing across all 30 teams. Silver also reportedly said that he’s continuing to explore resuming the NBA in an isolation bubble or campus, with Orlando and Las Vegas being the top two contenders.
No movement on league format
With health and safety being the main concern of the NBA’s resumption plan, there hasn’t been any progress on the format of the league once the NBA actually returns.
A few ideas have reportedly been floated, such as having a play-in tournament to give more teams a chance to make the playoffs, but it’s hard to even consider ideas for playoff formats when the basics are still undecided. Wojnarowski reported that the NBA has yet to figure out if all 30 teams will return when the NBA restarts, or if any of the remaining regular-season games will be played at all. Teams have 15-20 games left to play this season.
A decision on when or if the NBA will restart is not expected immediately. According to Wojnarowski, Silver is aiming for a two-to-four week decision timeline during which he and other NBA executives plan to study numerous issues that would affect the league’s restart, including the “trajectory” of new COVID-19 cases in states that have reopened.
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