The moment NBA fans everywhere have been waiting for happened yesterday. The league announced that after a unanimous vote amongst owners and players the league will return this year to complete the regular season and playoffs starting July 31st. The format will be extremely modified, so here’s everything you need to know.
There will be 22 teams heading to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The teams will complete a shortened regular season and compete for playoff spots. There will be no home-court advantage and no fans, but there will be basketball. 29 teams were in agreement. The lone team that didn’t vote on the return to play was the Portland Trail Blazers, who were in favor of only 20 teams heading to Orlando.
With eight regular-season games left, the NBA hopes to fit these games in before the playoffs start. The scheduling for these games has not been released just yet but a lot of writers and analysts are saying this plan is extremely ambitious. The schedule will be crammed to an extent, but the NBA wants this return to be a fair opportunity for all the teams involved. Eight is also the number of teams that will still qualify for the playoffs from each conference. There was talk of a tournament-style format of seeds 1 through 16 with conference having no impact on who will face off against each other come playoff time.
Coincidentally, the number eight also signifies the number of teams that had their seasons ended prematurely by this decision. The Hawks, Cavs, Hornets, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, Timberwolves, and Warriors have all played their final game of the NBA season already.
The 31st of July seems to be the date that the NBA is shooting for to resume the season. If they can pull this off it looks like the season will end no later than October 12th, which is usually right around the time the season starts. This massive schedule change obviously affects things such as the NBA Lottery, the NBA Draft, and the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. In a statement released on Thursday, the NBA laid out tentative dates for the aforementioned events. The NBA Lottery will go down August 25th, and the NBA Draft is scheduled for October 15th. December 1st will be the target date for the start of next season.
Beyond the numbers, there will be a few major storylines that will shape the rest of the NBA season.
After the recent horrific crime committed against George Floyd, the fight for racial equality and the end of police brutality has been stronger than ever. Activists that happen to play in the NBA include LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. All three will be heading to Orlando in July. There is no doubt these NBA players will want to make a statement very similar to the black “I Can’t Breathe” shirts the entire league wore in support of Eric Garner. Again, the question will be what they do, not if they will do anything.
The lengthy, illustrious career of Vince Carter has come to an end after the NBA decided to only invite 22 teams to Orlando in July. Currently, a member of the Atlanta Hawks, Carter’s team did not qualify. Carter has won Rookie of the Year, been a Slam Dunk Champion, selected to 8 All-Star teams, and is a member of the prolific 25,000 point-scoring club. Carter made his mark on teams such as the Raptors, Nets and Magic. He was a veteran presence on a number of other teams later on in his career as well.
NBA and COVID-19
The COVID-19 global pandemic has seemed to slow down in its ferocity. Due to this, the NBA felt comfortable enough to resume play. However, the restrictions are telling. Will coaches wear face masks? Will the players be allowed to sit next to each other on the bench? How severe will the testing be? All these questions and more will be answered in time. Check back with Front Row for the latest NBA news.