- NBA, NBPA finalize terms of return-to-play plan in Florida
- Unveiled schedule features Pelicans-Jazz, Lakers-Clippers in return July 30
- No more than seven games per day between July 30 and August 14
On Friday afternoon, the NBA and NBA Players’ Association announced that they have formally agreed on terms to restart the season at the Disney World property in Orlando next month. Commissioner Adam Silver admitted that having to quarantine 22 teams on the same site in order to play the games without fans isn’t ideal, but it’s essentially the safest thing the league can do if it wants to try and finish the stalled 2019-20 season.
The campaign has been on hold since the NBA suspended operations on March 11 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the fact that virus cases in Orange County, home of Disney World, have surged in recent days, the league believes that players and other personnel will be safe in the “campus” environment.
Players To Be Tested Daily
The NBA has installed “stringent” health and safety protocols, including testing players for the virus every single day, at least in the early stages of the season’s resumption.
Silver said, “We ultimately believe it will be safer on our campus than outside it. But the signal we are sending is this is definitely not business as usual. This is far from an ideal way to finish our season, and it will require tremendous sacrifices from all those involved.”
Teams are set to arrive in central Florida less than two weeks from now, with games officially set to get underway on Thursday, July 30.
Friday evening, the league unveiled its full game schedule ahead of the postseason. All 22 teams invited to Orlando will play eight games before the playoffs begin. The top eight teams in each conference at the end of the eight-game schedule will advance to the postseason.
The NBA’s restart will tip off with a pair of games. The Utah Jazz will square off against the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game at 6:30pm ET on July 30, while the Los Angeles Clippers will face the Los Angeles Lakers at 9pm ET. Both games will be broadcast on TNT.
So, the league is restarting the season with a number of marquee players. Zion Williamson, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, will lead his Pelicans into battle against Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz. It was Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test back on March 11 that ultimately prompted Silver to halt the season immediately.
NBA restart schedule notes:
– Maximum seven games per day, tip-offs between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m.
– Three total courts, two for national TV
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 26, 2020
There will be six games on the schedule for Friday, July 31. Very few games on the schedule are slated to start concurrently, though there will be some overlap considering how many games the league is trying to play.
The six games scheduled for July 31 are as follows:
- Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets (2:30pm)
- Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers (4pm)
- Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards (4pm)
- Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks (6:30pm, ESPN)
- Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs (8pm)
- Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks (9pm, ESPN)
No More Than Seven Games Per Day
The seeding portion of the schedule will run from July 30 until August 14, with games scheduled every day. There will be no more than seven games played in a single day, though there are a minimum of four games daily starting July 31.
Earlier Friday, the NBA announced that 16 of the 302 players that have been tested for the virus have tested positive. None of the players that were positive have reportedly suffered any serious symptoms, and all are currently self-isolating as they recover.
Silver said that only a “significant” spread of the virus on the campus could lead the NBA to shutting down operations again. The league was prepared for some players to come back with positive tests, though Silver said that the league was slightly relieved at the relatively low 5.3 percent positive test rate from the first round of testing.