As a return to basketball grows ever closer, the NBA is now beginning to hone in for its concluded season in a potential format. According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, as the momentum for getting all 30 teams to Disney for a truncated regular season fades, a few alternatives are starting to emerge. These options include a “playoffs-plus” format that brings together the four Western Conference bubble teams (Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs), a slightly expanded 24-team version, and a World Cup-based pool play proposal.
The NBA’s drive to bring those West teams to Orlando is focused on the race’s broad-open nature. The seed No. 8 at the Eastern Conference, Orlando, leads the seed No. 9, Washington, in the rankings, by 5.5 points. Meanwhile, the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies had a 3.5-game lead in the Western Conference but had the toughest remaining schedule for the NBA before the suspension. Most empirical models preferred the Pelicans, with the best routine remaining to the NBA. Despite five teams currently in the chase for the final slot, the NBA will potentially face controversy if it only kept the tables in their current place and let just 16 teams in.
The involvement of families of players at Disney is another significant factor. According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne. A compromise is being discussed between the NBA and the union allowing limited family members to come to Orlando. Once teams are out and more hotel rooms open. That would allow the NBA to keep within its bubble a somewhat consistent number of total people. When the losing players and teams leave, new family members will replace them.
While no progress is going on this week. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania a timetable is beginning to take shape. Training camps on the market will take place in July before scrimmages travel to Orlando. The start of play would either come in late July or early August. According to Charania, players and coaches who were living outside the US will be able to return.