Basketball: NBA board likely to approve chief's restart plan, play set to resume on July 31

A photo taken on Feb 15, 2020, shows NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the United Center in Chicago.
A photo taken on Feb 15, 2020, shows NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the United Center in Chicago.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - The National Basketball Association's board of governors is expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver's recommendation on a format to restart the coronavirus-hit season in Florida in a vote next Thursday, ESPN reported on Friday (May 29) night.

According to the report, "numerous members" of the board have said that from a group of return-to-play plans, support is growing for one that would see 22 teams play at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

On a call among the board of governors on Friday, "an overwhelming majority"of owners indicated they would approve a plan, ESPN reported. In order to proceed, any plan would need a 75 per cent margin to be approved.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported earlier in the day that Silver informed the board that a target date for the resumption of play is July 31.

According to the ESPN report, among the likely specifics of his proposed plan are:

- There would be regular-season and play-in games to determine play-off spots in the Eastern and Western Conference.

- Teams who were in a play-off position or within six games of the No. 8 seed when play was suspended on March 11 would participate.

"We are lining up behind him on this," an owner told ESPN. "The posturing will end. Nothing is going to be perfect for everyone."

ESPN reported that only one of the four plans discussed on Friday is believed to be entirely out of the running - to bring all 30 teams back to play.

 
 
 
 

Portland's Damien Lillard said earlier this week he would not play if the NBA had teams play only a handful of games and the Trail Blazers' had no shot at making the play-offs. His team are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, three and a half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final play-off slot.

Under the reported plan, the Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards would be the teams currently outside the play-offs who would compete in Orlando.

There is also a plan for 20 teams to take part, according to ESPN, which added that discussions have focused on a series of regular-season games and a play-in tournament to set the final play-off field.

The NBA hiatus began on March 11, when Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19.

A typical timeline of the season would involve the conference finals before the NBA Finals, which began on May 30 last year.

However, it is uncertain if the league will still break down the post-season by conferences or if all play-off teams will be ranked from first to last based on overall record.