Following up on a CNBC report from last week that suggested the NBA is mulling the idea of playing games in Las Vegas if the 2019/20 season is resumed, Chris Mannix of SI.com confirms the league is exploring the viability of holding its entire postseason in Vegas.
As we noted last week and as Mannix reiterates in today’s article, Vegas makes the most sense as a neutral site because the NBA has an existing relationship with the city, which hosts Summer League games at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion each July. And a single, neutral site may be the only realistic way to complete the playoffs, since travel restrictions may vary in different parts of the country and games would almost certainly have to be played behind closed doors anyway.
Another recent report indicated that the NBA has had internal discussions about locales such as Orlando, Atlantic City, Hawaii, or Louisville hosting games. However, according to Mannix, Vegas is currently the only city receiving “serious” consideration from the league.
Unsurprisingly, several team and league officials who spoke to Mannix confirmed there’s no chance of a traditional postseason happening this summer, so the NBA is getting creative as it considers its options. Still, it’s unclear if holding the playoffs in a single city would be doable either, since thousands of support staffers would be required at hotels and arenas. As Mannix writes, it’s probably not a viable solution unless the COVID-19 situation improves significantly in the coming months and rapid tests become widely available.
“We all want to play,” one executive from a playoff team told Mannix. “But we all know we can’t play until things are dramatically different.”
Meanwhile, the NBA will have to figure out how a resumed season might impact the 2020 draft, which is currently scheduled for June 25. The league’s preference would almost certainly be to postpone the event until after the conclusion of the resumed season, since offseason rules apply to the draft for roster and trade purposes.
However, as Ian Begley of SNY.tv explains, player agents are concerned about the idea of delaying the draft beyond July. If the draft ends up being pushed to August or September, the early-entrant decision deadline would likely be postponed along with it, causing it to bump up against the start of the fall semester, which would create major complications for prospects and college coaches alike.