NBA teams finally know when they will get back on the court.
On March 11, the league shut down following Rudy Gobert's positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test, suddenly forcing players to practice social distancing rather than prepare for the playoffs. Now commissioner Adam Silver has been entrusted with the difficult task of guiding the NBA through one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the sport.
Here's everything we know about the NBA's return and what to expect for the rest of the 2019-20 season.
When will the NBA return in 2020?
- Regular season start date: Thursday, July 30
- NBA Finals Game 7 (if necessary): Tuesday, Oct. 13
The NBA will resume play July 30 with a doubleheader featuring the Jazz vs. Pelicans and Clippers vs. Lakers. The latest possible date for a Game 7 of the NBA Finals will be Oct. 13.
"Seeding games" will be played through Aug. 14, and a play-in tournament will be held Aug. 15-16 if necessary with the first round of the playoffs starting Aug. 17. The NBA Finals will begin Sept. 30.
All games are set to be played at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.
"We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues," Silver said. "We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections."
How many NBA teams are going to Orlando?
The NBA and NBPA approved a 22-team format, which includes the 16 teams in playoff position based on the current standings and six additional teams within six games of the No. 8 seed in their respective conferences (Kings, Pelicans, Spurs, Suns, Trail Blazers, Wizards).
Eastern Conference teams
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat
- Indiana Pacers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Brooklyn Nets
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards
Western Conference teams
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
- Utah Jazz
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Houston Rockets
- Dallas Mavericks
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Portland Trail Blazers
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Sacramento Kings
- San Antonio Spurs
- Phoenix Suns
How will the 2020 NBA regular season and playoffs work?
Each of the 22 remaining teams is scheduled to play eight "seeding games" in order to determine playoff positioning in both conferences.
If the No. 9 seed in each conference is more than four games behind the No. 8 seed at the conclusion of the regular season, the No. 8 seed will earn the final playoff spot. If the No. 9 seed is four games or fewer behind the No. 8 seed, then those teams will enter a play-in tournament (double-elimination for the eighth seed, single-elimination for the ninth seed).
The playoffs will follow the typical format with full best-of-seven series all the way through the NBA Finals.
You can find the full NBA schedule HERE.
When is the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency?
- 2020 NBA Draft: Friday, Oct. 16
- Opening of free agency: Sunday, Oct. 18
The NBA Draft lottery is set to be held Aug. 20 with the 2020 NBA Draft following on Oct. 16. (Teams will be assigned lottery odds based on their records through March 11.) Free agency is scheduled to kick off Oct. 18.
If all of these dates stay in place, the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin in December.
Coronavirus testing among safety precautions in Orlando
The NBA plans to test "regularly" for the novel coronavirus, according to the league's 100-plus page health and safety document. If a player tests positive, that player will be isolated, then retested to verify the initial test didn't produce a false positive. If additional testing confirms the original result, that player will be out for at least 14 days.
It is unclear how many positive tests it would take in order for the NBA to consider a suspension of play.
"The occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption" of the season, the document states.
The extensive document also covers mundane tasks and activities, from basketball-cleaning guidelines to ping-pong procedures. If a player violates safety protocols, that player could be subject to disciplinary action, including a warning, fine, suspension or removal from the Orlando campus.
UPDATE: The NBA and NBPA announced on July 20 that none of the 346 players tested for COVID-19 have returned positive tests in the most recent round of results. If a player on the campus does test positive in the future, that player will be forced to isolate in accordance with health and safety protocols.
NBA standings 2020
Here are the current NBA standings as of March 11, the last day official games were played. Teams in bold have been invited to Orlando to finish the regular season.