It seems like major sports programs in the United States, the National Basketball Association (NBA) included, are starting to draft plans to resume the current season. This early, stories circulating around the sporting world shows that the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida could be the ideal one site venue the NBA is exploring to revive and salvage the season.
Having the space to accommodate 30 teams, including players, coaches, and staff along with game officials and technical staff, the campus is ideal to hold the rest of the eliminations or to simply jump right into the playoffs. There will be hotels to house the teams, practice facilities for team workouts, and game venues that will most definitely be on “closed-door” set up. Games will most likely be shown via national TV coverage or pay per view.
Obviously, the health and safety of the participants is paramount so 100% testing of personnel followed by a 14-day quarantine procedure and a “locked down” facility once everyone is inside the campus should be in place.
In case this idea pushes through, I believe the following steps and timelines could possibly happen:
Week 1 June: Testing of all participants
Week 2-3 June: Those tested negative can enter the campus and go through a 14 day quarantine period (individual workouts can happen during these 2 weeks)
Week 4 June: Team practices (mini camp)
Week 1-2 July: Tune Up Matches (except for the 4th of July holiday)
If these timelines are executed, we can foresee the resumption of the remainder of the NBA season in the 3rd week of July. The big question is, does the NBA need to complete the 82 game regular season? This would depend on what the league and the NBA players union agree to but it would make sense if the NBA just decides on jumping right into the playoffs because the top 8 teams in both the Eastern and Western conferences have somewhat created a good enough gap against the respective 9th seeds on each conference.
When games were put on hold in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orlando Magic (8th seed in the East) is plus 6 won games up against the Washington Wizards (9th) while the Memphis Grizzlies (8th in the West) have a 3 game win lead vs the Portland Trailblazers. There might some contention as to whether to give the 9th and 10th seeds of each conference a chance to catch up with the top 8 but this would require at the very least 6 more regular-season matches but the bigger question is, will the effort be worth the cost to get all players back into shape, spend hotel, transportation, and food to play but a handful of remaining games?
I believe it just makes sense to just invite the top 16 teams in the NBA as they stand today and then give them good quality workouts and tune-ups and then jump into postseason play. The first two games of the first-round playoff series can serve as the “getting back into the groove” matches. It will still be exciting considering the following brackets: