NBA Approves Plan To Restart Season Beginning In Late July

LOS ANGELES (CBS Local Sports) — The Lakers and Clippers will get an opportunity to resume their quest for a title after all.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket on Taurean Prince of the Brooklyn Nets during a 104-102 Nets win at Staples Center on March 10, 2020. (Getty Images)

Nearly three months after suspending its season, the NBA Board of Governors Thursday overwhelmingly approved a plan to restart play, according to The Athletic.

The plan passed by a 29-1 vote, with only the Portland Trail Blazers dissenting, The Athletic reports.

All games will be played at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex on the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

In the plan, 22 teams, including 13 from the Western Conference and nine from the Eastern Conference, will resume play on July 31. To qualify, a team needs to be no more than six games out of a playoff spot.

Sources told The Athletic that training camp will get underway between June 30 and July 7 depending on when players arrive in Orlando.

The 22 resuming teams will play eight “regular season” games to set up seeding for the playoffs. After that short schedule, 16 teams will advance to the playoffs — eight from the West and eight from the East. A short play-in round will determine the eighth seed if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed when the regular season ends. The playoffs will begin in August.

For the eight teams that don’t resume play, their seasons are over.

According to ESPN, the NBA Draft lottery will be held Aug. 25 and the draft itself will take place Oct. 15. Free agency will begin Oct. 18 with the 2020-21 season kicking off around Dec. 1, according to The Athletic. However that start date is flexible.

It’s unclear what kind of physical condition players will be in. The Lakers reopened their El Segundo practice facility on May 16 for players to conduct workouts, with the Clippers following suit and reopening their Playa Vista practice facility two days later.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics had previously clinched playoff spots. With only eight games left, the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets are locked in too. The Dallas Mavericks, with a seven-game lead on the Memphis Grizzlies, seem likely to make the postseason.

After that, things could get a little dicey. The Grizzlies hold the eighth seed in the West. But the Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns all sit within six games. In the East, the Brooklyn Nets currently hold the seventh seed and the Orlando Magic the eighth seed, with the Washington Wizards within six games of both.

The NBA season went on hiatus on March 12, soon after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. All major sports leagues remained dormant through May and have only recently revealed plans to reopen.

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