NBA approves plan to resume season at single site in Florida

New York, Jun 4 (efe-epa).- The National Basketball Association’s board of governors on Thursday voted 29-1 in favor of a plan to resume the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-2020 season at a single venue, according to information provided by the ESPN sports television network.

Under the plan proposed by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA’s advisory/finance committee, 22 of the league’s 30 teams (13 from the Western Conference and nine from the Eastern Conference) will be involved.

They will each play eight regular-season games starting July 31 to determine playoff seeding; that will be followed, if necessary, by a play-in tournament to determine the eighth seed in each conference.

Then 16 teams will compete in the NBA playoffs, with the champions of the East and West squaring off in the NBA Finals.

The venue for all of the action, which will start with training camps on July 9 and run until the end of the NBA Finals (Oct. 12 at the latest), will be the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, part of the Orlando metropolitan area.

No fans will be allowed inside the complex, but many of the games will be broadcast by ESPN or other networks.

The Portland Trail Blazers voted against the proposal “based on a belief of the organization and players’ input that there were more competitive and innovative formats on the table,” ESPN reported.

The board of governors also approved a plan to reschedule the 2020 NBA draft lottery for Aug. 25 and the 2020 NBA draft for Oct. 15.

More franchises from the West will be involved when the season resumes due to a requirement that teams must be no more than six games out of their conference’s No. 8 spot.

At the time the season was suspended on March 11, the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers had the best record in the West (49-14), followed by the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies.

The Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns also will participate because they are within six games of the Grizzlies.

The Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) currently have the best record in the East, followed by the Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic. The Washington Wizards, the ninth-place team, earned a spot because they are six games behind the Magic.

A play-in tournament involving the eighth- and ninth-place teams in each conference will be played if they are separated by four games or fewer at the end of the regular season, with the No. 8 team just having to win one game (out of two potential games) and the No. 9 having to win twice.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, which is expected to approve the plan on Friday, are currently negotiating the details of the restart, with stringent safety measures expected to be implemented.

The players and coaches will be allowed to play golf and eat at outdoor restaurants throughout the time they are in Orlando, but they must maintain social distancing.

Uniform daily testing for the coronavirus is expected to be carried out within the Disney campus environment, ESPN reported, citing sources.

Employees of the Disney complex also must follow similar protocols.

For example, Disney staff will not be allowed to enter the players’ rooms and hallways will be carefully managed to avoid crowding, the sources told ESPN.

The NBA suspended its regular season on March 11 after French center Rudy Gobert, who plays for the Jazz, tested positive for the coronavirus.

A two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert recovered from the virus shortly thereafter and posted an image on Instagram in late March that showed him doing an intense work-out. EFE-EPA

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