The NBA Board of Directors approves the return to the playing format of 22 teams

A sign marking the entrance to ESPN's Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World, where the NBA will resume its season in July.  (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The NBA Board of Directors has approved a format for 22 teams to restart the league season at the end of July on the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, another important step in getting teams back on the field and play games again.

What you need to know

  • NBA stopped playing in March during the corona virus
  • Schedule calls to resume games on the Disney campus
  • Orlando Magic is currently in playoff chase

The format requires each team to play eight games to determine the start of the playoffs, plus the possible use of a play-in tournament for last place in the postseason fields of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, a person who was aware of the situation Thursday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the league had not yet released the voting results.

It is the most important step so far in the process of resuming a season suspended almost three months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are plenty of other details for the league to work through, including rounding out the details of what the test plan will be once teams arrive at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex next month and calculating the financial impact of playing of a shortened regular season.

Another person also spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because the details of the ongoing talks have not been made public, the National Basketball Players Association and the NBA are continuing to work on a “lengthy” medical protocol document. The details of that document will be shared with teams once those discussions are complete, the person said, adding that teams should receive them in plenty of time to prepare for their arrival at the Disney-ESPN complex.

If all 22 teams that go to Disney play their assigned eight games before the postseason begins, the NBA would play 1,059 games in this regular season. That means 171 games in the regular season will be canceled, which could cost players about $ 600 million in salary.

Those 22 clubs would play anywhere between 71 and 75 games in the regular season when the Disney portion of the program is completed, aside from the usual 82-game slate. The teams that did not qualify for the restart will see their season end after having played between 64 and 67 games.

But one of the biggest hurdles has now been removed, and if everything goes according to plan, an NBA champion for a season will be crowned like no other in October. The season can begin that month if the league continues to plan for the same playoff rules as usual, each round in a best-of-seven format.

The Orlando Magic are currently the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference, 5.5 games for the Washington Wizards in 9th place. Head coach Steve Clifford said in a statement: “Our boys have worked really hard and worked hard to stay ready. We have made our way to the playoff position and are definitely looking forward to the opportunity ahead. can’t wait to get back into the gym and get to work. “

CEO Alex Martins: “” We appreciate the leadership of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in this unprecedented time and we look forward to going back to basketball. While there is still work to be done, we applaud all efforts and collaboration to find a safe, competitive formula. It has always been our sense that sport has the ability to bring people together and we look forward to restarting the NBA season while using that platform to generate meaningful social impact in this period. “

It is likely that teams will be allowed to open training camps in late June before arriving at the Disney complex around July 7. Once there, the camps will continue and teams will likely have the chance to have some scrimmages or ‘preseason’ games against other clubs before the regular season resumes.

Thursday’s move by the board – one that happened to come the same day that this season’s NBA finals would have started if these were normal times – was largely a formality. The NBA considered numerous restart options after suspending the season on March 11, That list was narrowed down to four possibilities last week, and from there the plan of 22 teams quickly began to gain momentum.

The 22-team plan includes all teams that had playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a postseason berth.

Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and reigning NBA champion Toronto had already captured playoff berths. With only eight games left for each team, this means that eight other clubs – Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City, and Houston – have secured postseason spots, and Dallas has virtual one too.

That leaves nine teams competing for three remaining playoff berths. In the east, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington compete for two places. To the west, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Phoenix throng for one place.

If the gap between eighth and ninth places in either conference is four games or less when the shortened regular season ends, those teams will compete for number 8. The team in ninth place should be 2-0 go in a series of two games to win the berth; otherwise seed No. 8 would continue into the late season.

Thursday’s decision also means that the seasons for Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, Golden State, Minnesota, Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte are over. The Knicks will miss the playoffs for the seventh straight season, the third longest current drought in the league behind Sacramento and Phoenix – who still have chances of getting into the playoffs this season.

And since the Hawks don’t go any further, this also means that Daytona Beach resident Vince Carter has almost certainly played the last game of his 22-year NBA career – the longest in the league’s history.

Carter, the first player in NBA history to appear in four different decades, has insisted that he retire after this season. He appeared in 1,541 NBA games, behind only Robert Parish (1,611) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560) on the league’s all-time list.