NBA season back on July 31? This is the date targeted by his boss Adam Silver whose recovery plan, with matches behind closed doors on the Disney World site, will be submitted to the owners’ vote next Thursday.
Silver’s willingness to concentrate its efforts to resume the season suspended since March 11 and the positive coronavirus test by French Rudy Gobert (Utah) took a little more concrete turn on Friday.
A week after the NBA confirmed that it had set its sights on the unique site of Disney World in Florida, its commissioner informed the owners of franchises, during a telephone meeting, “that July 31 is the target date”, have reported The Athletic website and the Los Angeles Times, citing anonymous sources.
For basketball fans, this date serves as a finally visible beacon, in the fog of uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had not weakened in more than two months.
If no decision of any kind was made during this meeting where multiple scenarios were discussed, ESPN says that the club bosses will vote next Thursday in favor of a recovery plan involving 20 or 22 teams.
– “Fair scenario” –
Adam Silver’s preferred format is to play a few remaining games of the regular season, then arrange play-off play-offs with teams six or less wins from 8th place in each conference. Which are, according to the latest ranking, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio to the west, and Washington to the east.
In favor of expanded play-offs, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on ESPN that “this is a fair scenario, it creates excitement, it gives all players a reason to play, for the mostly”.
The NBA needs a three-quarters majority of the owners to approve a return to play plan, and some have already expressed a desire to do so. “We are behind (Silver) on this point,” one of them told ESPN.
What seems to be on record is the refusal to finish the entire regular season. “They absolutely don’t want to play,” another executive told the Los Angeles Times about owners of teams having no chance of qualifying for the play-offs.
The Athletic and ESPN have revealed the results of a NBA survey of general managers of the 30 franchises.
– Epilogue on October 1? –
A small majority (53%, or 16 out of 30) would like the championship to resume directly with the play-offs, and 16 qualifiers determined by the classification on the evening of March 11. And half of the 14 remaining teams, not affected by these play-offs in such a scenario, prefer not to finish the regular season.
The proposal to resume from the play-offs won more votes than the other three together, including the one that Silver intends to precisely submit to the owners’ vote next Thursday, and which only attracted 27% of managers.
Some others imagined to play play-off play-offs, either with knockout or with a group stage based on the Football World Cup (17%), and a minority preferred to finish the entire regular season (3%).
If general managers prefer to keep the traditional format of play-offs, 47% of them (14 out of 30) say they are in favor of determining the order of heads of series independently of conferences, according to the general classification from 1 to 16. Normally, eight seeds are nominated in each conference, according to the classification from 1st to 8th place.
Finally, the subject that divided the most general managers concerns the desired date to end the season. The most popular option (30%) is that it ends no later than October 1, to allow enough time before starting the 2020-21 fiscal year in December.