Energy has been building behind a 22-team restart plan for the NBA for more than a week now, with players and owners seeming to coalesce behind it (even if they don’t all love it).
That is the plan Adam Silver will propose to the owners on Thursday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. It’s expected to be passed unanimously. However, this new report has new details on the play-in “tournament,” which is actually an eighth vs. ninth seed matchup if the teams are within four games.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has confirmed that plan.
In the West, when play was suspended Memphis was the eight seed with Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento 3.5 games back, San Antonio four games back, and Phoenix six-games back. This plan would leave those teams battling it out for eight games (Woj confirmed that number of regular-season games will be played) and the right to take on Memphis for the last playoff spot (and the “reward” of the Lakers in the first round).
In the East, Washington is 5.5 games back of Orlando for the eight seed and has some work to do just to get into that play-in scenario.
The schedule for the regular-season games would follow the previous schedule teams had, except that when a team came up not invited to Orlando — Chicago, New York, Golden State, etc. — it would just jump ahead to the next team, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.
That plan doesn’t completely balance out and a few games would need to be added to get every team to eight games.
After the regular season and play-in, the league would go to a standard 16-game playoff format, with an Eastern and Western conference playoffs (not 1-16), and seven games per round. Games could run all the way to Oct. 12. For players on teams that reach the NBA Finals, that could be three months in a hotel room at the Walt Disney World complex, which is a long time to be there.
This is a fairly traditional plan, considering the circumstances. The league did not use this opportunity for radical experimentation (other than next season starting in December).
How this plan keeps players safe — or at least minimizes risk — is up for debate and will depend on the details (Florida as a state has seen a surge in positive coronavirus cases in recent days). While there are plans for extensive testing, the league has released precious few of those details, which has raised some eyebrows in NBA circles.
Players will be allowed to golf and eat at outdoor restaurants in the Walt Disney World Resort, as long as they maintain social distancing, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Charania’s report gets into a few of the health measures that will be taken in Orlando, such as players not showering after games but doing so in their hotel rooms, and bench players being spread out not bunched together (easier to do without fans in courtside seats). That, however, has to be just the tip of the iceberg.