It’s almost official: the NBA has a plan to restart its season in Orlando at the Walt Disney World Resort.
So the NBA's inviting 22 teams to Orlando: 13 Western Conference, 9 Eastern Conference. Eight-regular season games per team. Play-in for the 8th seeds. July 31-October 12. Vote tomorrow to ratify.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
The NBA's back.
The Board of Governors will meet Thursday to vote on the final details, which will send 22 teams to the campus site to complete the 2019-20 league year. The season will resume on July 31, and each team will play eight additional regular-season games, no matter how many games they had played before the shutdown. This gives teams like the Clippers, whose playoff positioning is secure, a chance to get back in rhythm before the postseason.
The Clippers are currently 5.5 games back of the Lakers for the no. 1 seed in the Western Conference so they would need to finish five games better to overtake their crosstown rivals (i.e. going 7-1 while the Lakers went 2-6). That seems unlikely. However, there remains a possibility that one of the teams below the Clippers could catch them for the no. 2 seed; the Nuggets are only 1.5 games back right now.
It is worth noting that the benefits of seeding exist mostly for matchup purposes because homecourt advantage will be illusory on a neutral site, despite the league’s best efforts to adjust. Furthermore, the schedule of the final eight games is unknown because the league is not inviting every team to Orlando.
UPDATE: Per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, each team will attempt to finish its regular season by playing the next eight games on its schedule against teams that will be at the campus site. That means the Clippers would tentatively play Brooklyn, New Orleans, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Brooklyn, Indiana and Sacramento. However, these details have yet to be finalized.
Training camp will commence in Los Angeles in July and then shift to Orlando later in the month. Players will be allowed to use Walt Disney World facilities like golf courses provided they maintain social distancing, per the report from ESPN. The Athletic also revealed that players will have to socially distance on the bench during games. Furthermore, no guests will be allowed until the playoffs, and players will have to shower in the hotels instead of in arenas.
The vote still has to pass at the Board of Governors meeting Thursday, but it appears to be a formality at this point. The NBA will return this season.