In a call with the league’s Board of Governors, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver presented multiple return-to-play scenarios and set a target date of July 31 for a return to games, according to people with knowledge of Friday’s call.
No decisions have been made on a format for that return, with the league still considering bringing back all 30 teams to finish the regular season in some form. That plan, according to people with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly, has very little support and is the most unlikely of the scenarios being discussed.
“They flat-out don’t want to play,” one executive said of teams with no chance to make the playoffs.
The league is also examining possibilities for 20 teams to return, with competition being split into a World Cup-style pool system. The round of pool play would function, essentially, as the first round of the playoffs.
Another possibility is for 22 teams to return, with Washington joining Phoenix, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio for regular-season games before a play-in tournament for the final playoff spots.
Sixteen teams – those currently in the playoffs – could just return to start the postseason, perhaps with the NBA disregarding conference affiliation in its seeding.
The league has polled its general managers, who have largely voted with self-interest as a motivator. Reportedly, 53% of the general managers voted for the league’s return to include only the 16 teams currently in playoff position.
Ultimately, though, the NBA’s general managers are under the impression that their opinions are merely that – opinions. League sources believe Silver, with the league’s broadcast partners and medical advisors shaping his thinking, will ultimately be the one to make the decision about how the NBA resumes play.
That resumption will most likely occur in Orlando, Fla., by using the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the Disney World grounds as the NBA’s hub to complete its season.