NBA sets July 31 target date for return to play; Cavaliers’ season likely over – cleveland.com

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league office informed the Board of Governors during Friday’s call that July 31 is the target date for the return of 2019-20 season.

The next questions center on how many teams will be involved and which format will be used.

The league is currently weighing four return-to-play scenarios and each was discussed during Friday’s call.

There’s only one scenario that involves all 30 teams going to a single site — Disney World in Orlando — for an undetermined number of regular-season games before starting the playoffs. According to multiple reports, every team being invited is becoming unlikely and some bottom-tier teams will be left out. The 30-team format was the only one that would see the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the league’s second-worst record, resume their season. The latest reports point to Cleveland’s being over. The Cavs had played 65 games when the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown.

Members of the Board of Governors told ESPN on Friday that there’s growing support to bring 22 teams to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports at the end of July. This particular setup would likely include regular-season and play-in games to compete for playoff berths in both the Eastern and Western conferences. It’s unclear which teams would get the extra spots, but six teams (Washington, New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento and Phoenix) are within six games of the eighth seed in their respective conference. Under this plan, those teams would play a few regular-season games before the play-in tournament for the final spots.

A league-wide survey of all 30 GMs was conducted late last week and the results were given to executives on Thursday. There’s plenty of support for a play-in tourney, with 75 percent backing that new setup.

The other two possibilities being discussed are a 20-team group stage, which is similar to soccer’s World Cup, or 16 teams going straight to the playoffs.

No matter which plan is chosen, multiple reports say the owners are prepared to back Silver and resume the season. The Players Association will have to sign off on any proposal.

The Athletic first reported the league’s July 31 target date.

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