NBA owners approve 22-team season restart plan

A person with knowledge of the situation says the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved a 22-team format for restarting the league season in late July at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

News 12 Staff

Jun 4, 2020, 6:21 PM

Updated 1,444 days ago

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The NBA took a major step toward getting back on the court Thursday, with the league’s Board of Governors approving a 22-team format for restarting the league season next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

The vote was 29-1, with Portland casting the dissenting vote, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league did not publicly release voting details. The National Basketball Players Association has scheduled a meeting for Friday to vote on the plan.

Teams would arrive at Disney around July 7 and play an eight-game slate of games starting July 31 at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex. All teams will stay, practice and play at Disney and the NBA Finals - which would have started Thursday if not for the coronavirus pandemic that caused the NBA to suspend its season on March 11 - will likely stretch into October.
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“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “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.”

The eight-game slate - it’s unclear if they will be classified as regular season games - will help determine playoff seeding. From there, the league could have a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference postseason fields.

“While there is still work to be done, we applaud all the effort and collaboration that has gone into finding a safe, competitive format,” Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “It has always been our feeling that sports have the ability to bring people together and we look forward to restarting the NBA season while using that platform to drive meaningful social impact at this period of time.”

There are numerous other details to continue working through, including finalizing specifics of what the testing plan at Disney will entail and calculating the financial ramifications of playing fewer games.

Another person, also speaking to AP on condition of anonymity because the details of the ongoing talks have not been publicly released, said the NBPA and the NBA are working on “lengthy” medical protocols. The details will be shared with teams once those discussions are completed, which will be long before they arrive at Disney, the person said.

“The NBA is taking all the appropriate measures, and working tirelessly to provide a safe environment for our team and staff,” the Dallas Mavericks said in statement.

While working to finish this season, the league also has made decisions on next season - with the draft lottery rescheduled for Aug. 25, the draft on Oct. 15 and opening night for the 2020-21 campaign is tentatively set for Dec. 1. The G League also announced Thursday that it canceled the remainder of this season.

The 22 Disney-bound clubs would play somewhere between 71 and 75 games before the playoffs begin, down from the customary 82-game slate. The teams who didn’t qualify for the restart will see their seasons end after having played somewhere between 64 and 67 games.

Roughly 15% of what would have been the full NBA regular season won’t be played, which means players stand to lose around $600 million in salary. How that process will work is among the issues that the league and union are still working to solve.

But one of the biggest hurdles is now cleared, in an NBA season like none other. The league is planning for the same playoff rules as usual, that being every round utilizing a best-of-seven format.

The 22-team plan includes all teams that were holding playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a berth.

Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and reigning NBA champion Toronto had already clinched playoff berths. Now with only eight games remaining for each team, it means that eight other clubs - Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City and Houston - have postseason spots secured, and Dallas virtually has one as well.

That leaves nine teams vying for three remaining playoff berths. In the East, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington are in the race for two spots. In the West, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix will jostle for one spot.

If the gap between eighth place and ninth place in either conference is four games or less when the eight-game slate ends, those teams will play off for the No. 8 seed. The team in ninth place would have to go 2-0 in a two-game series to advance.

“There is still much work to be done, but we are excited to be able to return to the court," Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said.

For Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, Golden State, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte, the season is over. The Knicks will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the third-longest current drought in the league behind Sacramento and Phoenix - who still have chances of getting into the playoffs this season.

“While we are disappointed for our team and our fans that our season is coming to an end, we understand and accept the league’s plan to move forward with 22 teams,” Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas said. “It is important that we be a good teammate not only to the NBA, but to the other 29 teams to support the efforts to complete this season and prepare for next season in a healthy and safe manner.”

And with the Hawks done, it also means Vince Carter has likely played the final game of his 22-year NBA career - the longest in league history.

Carter, the first player in NBA history to appear in four different decades, plans to retire. He appeared in 1,541 NBA games, behind only Robert Parish (1,611) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) on the all-time list.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)
A person with knowledge of the situation says the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved a 22-team format for restarting the league season in late July at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

The format calls for each team playing eight games to determine playoff seeding plus the possible utilization of a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference postseason fields, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the league had not yet revealed the vote result publicly.

It is the most significant step yet in the process of trying to resume a season that was suspended nearly three months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. There are numerous other details for the league to continue working through - including finalizing specifics of what the testing plan will be once teams arrive next month at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex and the calculating the financial ramifications of playing a shortened regular season.

Another person, also speaking to AP on condition of anonymity because the details of the ongoing talks have not been publicly released, said the National Basketball Players Association and the NBA are continuing to work on a “lengthy" medical protocols document. The details of that document will be shared with teams once those discussions are completed, said the person, who added that teams should receive them in plenty of time for them to prepare for expected mid-July arrivals at the Disney-ESPN complex.

If all 22 teams that are going to Disney play their allotted eight games before the postseason begins, the NBA would play 1,059 games in this regular season. That means 171 regular season games would be canceled, which could cost players around $600 million in salary.

Those 22 clubs would play somewhere between 71 and 75 regular season games if the Disney portion of the schedule is completed, down from the customary 82-game slate. The teams who didn’t qualify for the restart will see their seasons end after having played somewhere between 64 and 67 games.

But one of the biggest hurdles is now cleared, and if things go according to plan an NBA champion for a season unlike any other will be crowned in October. The season could go into that month if the league goes ahead with its plan for the same playoff rules as usual, that being every round utilizing a best-of-seven format.

Thursday's move by the board of governors - one that came, coincidentally, on the same day this season’s NBA Finals would have started if these were normal times - was largely a formality. The NBA considered countless restart options after suspending the season on March 11, whittled that list down to four possibilities last week and from there the 22-team plan quickly began gaining momentum.

The 22-team plan includes all teams that were holding playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a postseason berth.

Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and reigning NBA champion Toronto had already clinched playoff berths. Now with only eight games remaining for each team, it means that eight other clubs - Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City and Houston - have postseason spots secured, and Dallas virtually has one as well.

That leaves nine teams vying for three remaining playoff berths. In the East, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington are in the race for two spots. In the West, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix will jostle for one spot.

If the gap between eighth place and ninth place in either conference is four games or less when the shortened regular season ends, those teams will go head-to-head for the No. 8 seed. The team in ninth place would have to go 2-0 in a two-game series to win the berth; otherwise, the No. 8 seed would advance to the postseason.

Thursday’s decision also means that the seasons for Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, Golden State, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte are over. The Knicks will miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the third-longest current drought in the league behind Sacramento and Phoenix - who still have chances of getting into the playoffs this season.

And with the Hawks not moving on, it also means Vince Carter has almost certainly played the final game of his 22-year NBA career - the longest in league history.

Carter, the first player in NBA history to appear in four different decades, has steadfastly insisted that he is retiring after this season. He appeared in 1,541 NBA games, behind only Robert Parish (1,611) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) on the league’s all-time list.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


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