The NBA restart of the suspended 2019-20 campaign will put the world’s premier basketball league back in the spotlight in Florida.
By a 29-1 vote last week, the NBA Board of Governors authorized a plan to complete the season and stage the playoffs at Walt Disney World. The Portland Trail Blazers voted against the plan.
The season is set to start again on July 31.
The NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and various ideas were discussed, revised and debated before the current 22-team relaunch was finalized.
The top 13 Western Conference teams based on the standings and top nine Eastern Division clubs will head to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where they will play eight regular-season contests, possible play-in games to determine final playoff spots, and the full gamut of postseason rounds.
After the NBA Board of Governors’ votes were cast , NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about the league’s return.
“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,” Silver said in a statement.
Coronavirus testing is set to be done each day as an integral part of the NBA restart at Disney complex, according to published reports.
After regrouping at their training facilities, teams are set to travel to Disney World between July 7 and 9, and conduct additional preparations in central Florida. The restart plan calls for the 22 teams to play eight regular-season games to close out the 2019-20 campaign.
Reactions to the relaunch plan
Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers said his team is now focused on the 2021-22 season. The Warriors are one of eight teams not heading to Florida next month.
“We can now focus our efforts on preparing for the 2020-21 season and, ideally, putting ourselves in position to be a very successful team,” Myers said last week.
Reacting to the NBA relaunch plan, Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum didn’t mince his words.
“We play for an ownership group that actually listens to its players and has a backbone,” McCollum said. “We voiced what we felt was the best option and they followed our lead. I commend our front office and Jody Allen.”
Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford, meanwhile, admitted he’s excited about the NBA restart. For his team, it’s an opportunity to compete for a playoff spot.
“Our guys have worked extremely hard and made a great commitment to stay ready,” Clifford said. “We have played our way into playoff position and are certainly looking forward to the opportunity ahead.
“We can’t wait to get back in the gym and get to work.”
A look ahead
Due to the aforementioned suspension, the 22 teams penciled in to compete Florida will play a reduced schedule of between 71 and 75 games, including the NBA restart.
As a result of the revamped schedule, the NBA Finals is scheduled to end on Oct. 12 at the latest, with the 2020 NBA Draft set for Oct. 15.
What’s more, next season’s start date has been pushed back to Dec. 1.
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