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The NBA’s Board of Governors approved commissioner Adam Silver’s plan to resume the 2019-20 season in addition to setting new calendar dates for this year’s draft, the league announced on Thursday.
Silver presented his proposal on a conference call, and the league’s owners voted 29-1 in support. The Portland Trail Blazers were the lone opposition vote, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The NBA has been on hiatus since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus on March 11.
The decision to return now lies with the National Basketball Players Association, which plans to host a virtual meeting on the matter on Friday afternoon, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein. It is not immediately clear whether the NBPA will hold a formal vote on endorsing Silver’s plan in the meeting. The NBA must also reach a formal agreement with The Walt Disney Company to host the league.
“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” Silver said in a statement. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”
Barring another force majeure, the NBA plans to host the 16 teams currently in playoff position, plus the teams with the next six-best records at Walt Disney World Resort for eight additional regular-season games starting July 31. The playoffs would end no later than Oct. 12. The draft is set for Oct. 15, leaving a 72-hour window for teams to conduct official business between a possible Game 7 and draft night.
The annual draft lottery is now scheduled for Aug. 25. As a result, the NCAA has also pushed the deadline for student-athletes to withdraw from the draft and retain their eligibility from June 3 to Aug. 3.
The lottery will feature the eight teams not invited to Orlando and the six remaining teams that fail to make the playoffs. Odds will be based on regular-season records through March 11. Playoff teams will draft in reverse order of their records through the eight additional regular-season games. This leaves open the possibility that the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies drop out of the playoff picture and transfer a lottery pick to the Boston Celtics. The pick is protected through the top six selections in 2020 and would transfer as unprotected in 2021.
The start of the NBA’s 2020-21 regular season is tentatively slated for Dec. 1.
The six teams slated to compete in Orlando against the current top-eight seeds in each conference are the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. Only the Wizards represent the Eastern Conference. The East’s Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls are the only teams within eight games of a playoff spot that will not compete.
The NBA will hold a play-in series between the eighth- and ninth-place teams in either conference if they finish within four games of each other at regular season’s end. The ninth-place team must then win two straight head-to-head games to enter the playoffs as an eighth seed. The Wizards trail the eighth-place Orlando Magic by 5 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference. The Blazers, Pelicans, Kings and Spurs are all within four games of the eighth-place Grizzlies in the West. Phoenix trails Memphis by six games.
The NBA will be the most popular sports league to resume games this summer if the league and its players’ union reach a deal. The NHL, MLS and NWSL have previously announced their plans to return.
G League officially cancels season
In a long-anticipated move, the G League officially canceled the rest of its 2019-20 season on Thursday afternoon.
“While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “I extend my sincere gratitude to NBA G League players and coaches for giving their all to their teams and fans this season. And to our fans, I think you and look forward to resuming play for the 2020-21 season.”
The G League suspended operations due to the coronavirus pandemic when the NBA did in March. Just days after that move, Wojnarowski reported that teams in the league never expected play to resume.
Now, it’s finally official.
The G League regular season was set to run through the end of March, with the playoffs ending in mid-April.
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