NBA Targeting July 31 For Return To Play

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league office informed the Board of Governors on today’s conference call that July 31 is the tentative target date for a return to play, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

That target date doesn’t tell us exactly when the NBA would want its season to end, since we don’t know how many games will be played once the season resumes. However, a typical postseason requires about two months from start to finish, so it appears as if the league is comfortably playing through August and September.

According to Charania (via Twitter), the NBA discussed four potential return scenarios on today’s call with team owners. Those scenarios were as follows:

  1. Bringing back 16 teams and advancing directly to the postseason.
  2. Bringing back 20 teams and using a play-in pool that would involve a group stage.
    • Note: The Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs would likely be involved in this scenario in addition to the playoff teams.
  3. Bringing back 22 teams and playing regular season games to determine seeding. A play-in tournament would then be used to determine the final playoff teams.
    • Note: The Suns and Wizards would be added to this scenario, as ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets.
  4. Bringing back 30 teams, completing a 72-game regular season, then conducting a play-in tournament for the final playoff teams.

Within each of those scenarios, the NBA could tweak the details and go in a few different directions. For instance, even something a solution as simple as advancing to the postseason with the current top-eight seeds in each conference could involve reseeding those teams from one through 16, regardless of conference.

It seems like a safe bet, however, that the format the league eventually lands on won’t stray too far from one of those four options. Marc Berman of The New York Post tweets that returning with 24 teams is believed to still be on the table as well, so that may be a variation of the third option listed above.

According to Charania (via Twitter), that fourth and final option – with all 30 teams returning to play – looks like the least likely outcome. Charania reports that Hornets owner Michael Jordan advocated on today’s call for player safety and not asking players to return for meaningless games — that viewpoint has been voiced by at least one superstar player as well. So unless all 30 teams get a chance to make the playoffs, which seems like a long shot, the NBA is unlikely to bring them all back.

The NBA and NBPA are expected to further deliberate in the coming days, with Silver potentially bringing a proposal back to the Board of Governors for a vote next week.

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