With the news that the NBA has solidified its return plans following a months-long coronavirus break, many of the questions we had regarding the season resumption plan have been answered.
There’s still some left in the unknown, but for now, we have a pretty good idea of what the next couple of months will be like as the NBA attempts to restart operations.
Below, we breakdown some frequently asked questions regarding coronavirus and the NBA’s plans to return.
The tentative return schedule the NBA has planned for now goes as follows:
- Players located internationally will return to their team’s markets on June 15.
- Players will report to their teams on June 21.
- Players, coaches and staffs will begin to be tested for coronavirus on June 22.
- Training camp will start on June 30.
- Teams will travel to Orlando on July 7.
- The remainder of the 2019-20 season will begin on July 31 and end no later than Oct. 12.
- The draft lottery will be held on Aug. 25.
- The NBA Draft itself will be on Oct. 15.
- 2020 free agency will begin on Oct. 18.
- Training camp for the 2020-21 season will begin on Nov. 10.
- The 2020-21 season will start on Dec. 1.
HOW MANY TEAMS AND WHAT TEAMS WILL BE INVOLVED?
The NBA decided on the Top 22 teams by record returning this season, meaning the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets won’t be headed to Orlando for 2019-20’s resumption.
HOW DID THE LEAGUE DECIDE ON 22 TEAMS?
The NBA reportedly wanted to give teams a chance to play meaningful games ahead of the playoffs, so they went with choosing the 16 playoff teams and the six teams within six games of each conference’s No. 8 seed to return to action in late July.
HOW MANY REGULAR SEASON GAMES WILL THERE BE?
Each team will play eight regular-season games prior to the start of the playoffs, giving all of them a couple of weeks’ worth of action to get back into the swing of things. There will be 16 days of the regular season prior to the start of the postseason.
WILL THERE BE A PLAY-IN TOURNAMENT?
Only if the No. 9 seed in either conference is within four games of the No. 8 seed once the regular season ends. If not, the playoffs will begin as they normally do.
However, if a No. 9 seed in either the East or West is within four games of a No. 8 seed, they will play either once or twice to settle who makes the playoffs. If the No. 8 seed wins the first game, they qualify for the postseason. If the No. 9 seed wins the first game, there will be a second game which will basically be the equivalent of a play-in game, with the winner qualifying for the playoffs.
HOW WILL THE NBA HANDLE PEOPLE FROM HIGHER-RISK AGE GROUPS?
That much is still unclear.
Silver mentioned on Thursday that there could be special rules used for older coaches, including potentially not even allowing them on the benches, but has since walked that back.
Special precautions should probably be taken for coaches in their 60s and 70s, however. Perhaps asking them to coach with masks on could be a start.
HOW OFTEN WILL PLAYERS BE TESTED?
Daily, though it won’t be the invasive nasal swab test but rather a mouth or light nasal swab test instead.
If a player tests positive, he’ll be asked to quarantine for at least seven days.
WILL A POSITIVE TEST RESULT LEAD TO THE SEASON GETTING CANCELED AGAIN?
The goal is for that not to be the case.
Because testing is more prevalent today than it was months ago when the pandemic really hit the United States hard, that will allow for constant testing of players. As such, if a player tests positive, not only will he be asked to quarantine, teams will be able to immediately test whoever he has been around recently to see who else tests positive and isolate them.
Now, if mass test results league-wide return positive and there’s a major outbreak (the NBA is going to be as careful as possible to not allow that to happen), then things might change.
But for now, one or two positive tests won’t shut things down like they did once already.