Today, NBA executives agreed on a deal to finally resume the 2020 NBA season beginning July 31st.
22 teams will be invited to Orlando, Florida at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 13 Western Conference, 9 Eastern Conference. Each of the 22 teams will play eight regular season games for seeding purposes for the playoffs. If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth. July 31-October 12 are the projected dates with Game 7 of the Finals being that day. The six teams not currently among the top 16 that will play in Orlando include five Western Conference teams (New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs) and the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Trail Blazers were all within four games of the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West right before the unexpected pandemic. The Wizards were 5.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final seed in the East. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, players will be asked to live and play at the sports complex. It will be very interesting to see how “home-court advantage” will be figured out and ways to keep fans involved.
Each team will be allowed to take roughly around 35 people including players and mostly essential staff/doctors. Normally around 50 people traveled with teams before the pandemic. Now the question around the league is how they can give advantages to the top seeds and teams who should have a home-court advantage.
Some of the alternate plans discussed, sources told ESPN, include:
- The higher-seeded team being awarded the first possession of the second, third and fourth quarters, following the traditional jump ball to begin the game.
- The higher-seeded team being allowed to designate one player to be able to be whistled for seven fouls instead of six before fouling out.
- The higher-seeded team receiving an extra coach’s challenge.
- The higher-seeded teams being able to transport their actual hardwood home court from their arenas to Orlando to try to preserve the feel of their home playing experience.
- An off-court feature in which playoff teams, in order of seeding 1-16, receive first choice on picking which hotel they will stay at in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney World Resort.
Most of these scenarios seem a bit ridiculous in my opinion, especially bringing an entire hardwood court to the arena thinking that will make much of a difference. It would also require a crew who would add to the amount of people in the arena at the time. So much for social distancing right? Us fans really just want to see these great athletes playing some form of basketball again (not the HORSE challenge ESPN hideously showcased) but the floor does not matter, I’m almost positive. I believe giving an extra coaching challenge can be effective. Also, allowing one player from the higher seed a seventh foul seems acceptable. Allowing the players to choose a hotel could be a peculiar situation so I feel that should be awarded to the top seed regardless. “I do think the NBA cares about it,” one Eastern Conference executive told ESPN when asked about making up for home-court advantage. “I do not think it’s a top priority for them.” It really should not be. Let’s just play some basketball! Most players agreed to restarting the season but some teams who are not invited to Orlando – fear the setbacks and or injuries that can come from such a long stoppage. On ESPN’s “The Jump,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce told Rachel Nichols on Tuesday that he “without a doubt” wanted his team to be included in the Orlando plan: “I coach the youngest team in the NBA. The biggest thing, and the biggest thing we can benefit from is playing basketball, and we’ve been, the game has been taken away from all of us, at this point. But if the season’s going to resume, and we’re still not a part of it, it hurts our growth, it hurts our product, it hurts our ability to continue the momentum that we need going into next season.” It is of course unfortunate for young players not to be able to get work in and finish out their season, but they also should have taken care of business during the season and they would not be in this position. So it is tough to feel bad for the Hawks and any other team who was not invited. The NBA will also host the 2020 Draft Lottery on August 25th, and the 2020 NBA Draft on October 15th.
I look forward to seeing the season resume, it will be interesting to watch pickup games for an NBA Championship in 2020.
Sports & Culture Editor for SWGRUS.