What We Learned On Thursday About NBA’s Plans

Thursday represented perhaps the most eventful day of NBA news since the league suspended its season back on March 11. The NBA’s Board of Governors formally approved the return-to-play plan put forth by commissioner Adam Silver, as the league took a major first step toward getting back on the court this season.

While that 29-1 vote in favor of Silver’s 22-team plan was the big headline of the day, it was just one of many significant updates we got from the NBA and the reporters that cover the league. Since there was a lot of information to take in, we wanted to round up all the key headlines in one place — we’ve done so below.

Here are some of Thursday’s biggest stories:

The ball is now in the NBPA’s court:

The NBA and its teams have given the green light to the league’s return-to-play plan, but the National Basketball Players Association hasn’t technically done so yet.

The players’ union reportedly scheduled a call on Friday with team player representatives, and there’s an expectation that they’ll sign off on the plan. After all, Silver and NBPA president Chris Paul have stayed in close contact throughout the process and are believed to be on the same page.

However, giving a tentative go-ahead to the broad strokes of the NBA’s proposal doesn’t mean that the NBPA will be on board with every single detail. Many changes, especially those applying to the offseason and the 2020/21 season, will need to be collectively bargained before they can be officially finalized.

More light was shed on the NBA’s new summer schedule:

In addition to getting confirmation from the NBA that the league is aiming to begin regular season games on July 31, we were able to fill in some of the gaps between now and then, based on reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and others.

Not all of these dates are set in stone, but here’s a rough timeline on what the next several weeks may look like:

  • June 15: Players located internationally return to their team’s market.
  • June 21: All players report to their team’s market.
  • June 22: Coronavirus testing begins.
  • June 30: Training camps begin.
  • July 7: Players travel to Orlando.
  • July 8-30: Quarantine period, camps, and possibly exhibition games?

Once the season resumes on July 31, it’s expected to take 16 days for each team to play eight games, so by mid-August, we could be looking at one or two potential play-in tournaments, with the postseason to follow.

The NBA has officially rescheduled its draft:

Originally scheduled for June 25, the 2020 NBA draft is now tentatively penciled in for October 15. That means it could take place just three days after the NBA Finals conclude.

We’re still waiting to see if the league will be able to conduct some form of revamped combine for many of this year’s top prospects. For now, we know that NCAA early entrants will have to withdraw from the draft by August 3 or 10 days after the combine (whichever comes first) in order to maintain their college eligibility.

Any draft combine the NBA puts together seems unlikely to be completed by July 24, so for now we’re assuming that August 3 will be the withdrawal deadline for early entrants.

We’ve got a new draft lottery date and details:

The 2020 draft lottery, which was initially supposed to happen in Chicago on May 19, is now tentatively scheduled for August 25.

While it’s not clear exactly what form the lottery will take, the NBA provided more details today on what the seeding and odds will look like. According to the league, the eight teams not invited to Orlando are locked into the top eight spots in the lottery. The 9-14 seeds will be filled out by the rest of the teams that don’t ultimately make the playoffs, sorted by their records as of March 11.

In other words, even if the Wizards go 0-8 and finish with a worse winning percentage than a couple teams left out of the return to play, they’ll have the ninth-best lottery odds. The same is true if they go on a hot streak and pass a couple top-22 teams in the standings in Orlando — unless they make the postseason, they’ll still be No. 9 in the lottery standings.

Here’s what the lottery odds will look like for the eight teams not invited to Orlando:

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
GSW 14 13.4 12.7 12 47.9
CLE 14 13.4 12.7 12 27.8 20
MIN 14 13.4 12.7 12 14.8 26 7.1
ATL 12.5 12.2 11.9 11.5 7.2 25.7 16.8 2.2
DET 10.5 10.5 10.6 10.5 2.2 19.6 26.7 8.8 0.6
NYK 9 9.2 9.4 9.6 8.6 29.6 20.6 3.8 0.2
CHI 7.5 7.8 8.1 8.5 19.7 34.1 12.9 1.3 >0
CHA 6 6.3 6.7 7.2 34.5 32.1 6.7 0.4 >0

The tentative odds for the rest of the teams can be found here, though they’re dependent on the Grizzlies, Magic, and Nets not surrendering their playoff spots.

As for the rest of the first round draft order, that won’t be based on March 11 records — teams’ performances in the eight “seeding games” in July and August will also be taken into consideration. For instance, the Heat (41-24) are currently projected to have the No. 23 pick, but if they go 1-7 when play resumes, they’ll almost certainly move up in the draft order.

The NBA is planning on a very short offseason:

In one of the more surprising announcements of the day, the league indicated it’s targeting November 10 for the opening of next season’s training camps and December 1 for opening night of the 2020/21 campaign.

While teams not involved in the NBA’s return will welcome the opportunity to get back on the floor at that point, those dates may not be popular among playoff teams, who would have an extremely compressed offseason. The 2019/20 season could run as late as October 12 (with free agency to follow just six days later on October 18), which would result in an offseason of less than a month for a couple teams.

Comments made by NBPA executive director Michele Roberts suggest she was surprised by the December 1 target date, and it’s worth noting that it will require approval from the players’ union. Of all the dates and details the NBA has announced so far, this is one I could see changing — a December 25 opening day just seems to make a lot of sense.

On the other hand, a December 1 start could give the NBA a chance to finish the 2020/21 season before the Olympics get underway on July 23, 2021 — avoiding any overlap with the Tokyo games could be important for some players.

There still aren’t a ton of details on the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the summer:

Even as we received a ton of new information today on dates and formats, there were few updates about the most important issue facing the NBA this summer — how does the league plan to keep its players safe and healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic?

A report confirmed that individuals are expected to be tested for COVID-19 daily within the Orlando bubble, and commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that the league doesn’t want a single positive test to prevent that player’s team from continuing to participate. But we already strongly suspected both of things.

Silver’s most noteworthy comment during his Thursday TNT appearance was his suggestion that certain older coaches may not be permitted on the sidelines due to their increased risk if they were to contract COVID-19. However, he has already walked back that stance to some extent. Either way, we’ll need more details on the NBA’s health and safety protocols soon.

For more details on the NBA’s return-to-play plan, check out our full breakdown here.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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2 thoughts on “What We Learned On Thursday About NBA’s Plans

  1. George Ruth

    The only NBA Team to vote against this was the Portland Trailblazers because they only wanted 20 teams to continue playing to help their chances of possibly reaching the playoffs.

  2. Skip, Tampa

    All sounds at least workable for now. Be interested how the players tweak it on Friday call.
    August 25 lottery is good, October draft with Summer League in November also could work.
    Like the December 1st 20/21 start date better.
    Excited, Play Ball !!!!

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