How Kings' playoff chances are affected by NBA's Orlando scenarios

James Ham
NBC Sports BayArea

You can almost hear the sound of basketballs bouncing off the gym floor.

The NBA is doing their due diligence in an attempt to restart the 2019-20 season after it was derailed in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down the country.

The latest information is encouraging, but nothing is certain. We are in uncharted waters and commissioner Adam Silver is mulling over a mountain of options as he tries to do what's best for the league.

"The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 season in late July at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices and housing," league official Mike Bass said in a statement on Saturday.

"Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."

A handful of Kings players have been filtering into the team's practice facility for almost two weeks. They're working out under strict guidelines laid out by the league and so far, they've done so without incident.

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An NBA source told NBC Sports California that the Kings will defer to the NBA on the subject of potentially resuming the season and what that might entail.

According to assistant coach Bobby Jackson, the solo workouts have been spirited and from the conversations he's had, the Kings' players would love to come back and finish off the season.

"Honestly, I think the guys want to play basketball," Jackson said on the latest edition of the Purple Talk podcast. "I think they want to play in a safe environment though and I know the NBA will do a great job of putting us in a great environment that will allow us to be safe."

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, teams were given a questionnaire this week that will likely impact the way this season concludes.

The league appears to be focused on Orlando as their possible landing spot to finish the season, but they are open to shortening the season, using a play-in tournament or just skipping straight to the postseason.

Out of all of these options, a play-in tournament might be the most appealing to the Kings. If the league were to resume the regular season, it would be tough to imagine them fitting in all 18 remaining games on the Kings' schedule.

When the league was put on pause on March 11, the Kings were tied for the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings, just three and a half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies with 18 games remaining.

In a race that could come down to the final two or three games of the season, any reduction in games would likely hurt the Kings' chances. As the standings currently sit, the Kings are in a three-way tie with the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans for ninth place.

Portland has played two more games than both the Kings and Pelicans, so they hold a slight win percentage advantage. The Blazers and Kings have split the season series 2-2. New Orleans won their season series against Portland 3-0 and they have a 1-0 advantage over the Kings, with two head-to-head games remaining.

Sacramento would not only need to come out ahead of the Blazers and Pelicans, but they also need to track down the Grizzlies. The Kings won the season series 3-1 over the Grizzlies, but making up three and a half games isn't an easy feat.

Memphis had one of the most difficult remaining schedules out of any team, but that could change dramatically if they don't have to complete their entire schedule.

Heading straight to the playoffs would be bad for Sacramento as well, unless the league expanded to 20, 22 or 24 teams for the tournament. As the standings sit now, the Kings would need the league to allow at least 20 teams and potentially 22 teams into the postseason.

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A play-in tournament would at least give the Kings a fighting chance to end their 13-season postseason drought. We have no idea what that tournament might look like at this point, but the Kings would likely be involved.

There are still plenty of moving pieces for the league to nail down, but it appears they are forging ahead and taking input on the finer details.

The only thing we know for certain is that fans will have to watch games from the comfort of their homes if and when the league returns. It's painful to imagine, but there is a possibility that the Kings could snap their postseason drought, but not get to host the first ever home playoff game at Golden 1 Center.

How Kings' playoff chances are affected by NBA's Orlando scenarios originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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