Basketball: NBA to return as board approves return-to-play plan

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The NBA’s board of governors approved a return-to-play plan on Thursday (June 4), paving the way for the league to resume in Florida following a three-month coronavirus shutdown.

ESPN and The Athletic reported that a proposal put to the league’s board which will see 22 teams based at a single location had passed comfortably.

Twenty-nine teams voted in favour of the return-to-play plan, with Portland the lone vote against.

Under the NBA’s proposals, the league would resume on July 31 with 22 teams based at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando to minimise the threat of Covid-19.

Playoffs would take place in August, with the NBA Finals set to be completed by Oct 12.

The league has also pencilled in a provisional Dec 1 start date for the 2020-2021 season.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 as the Covid-19 pandemic erupted, leaving professional sport in North America at a standstill.

Sixteen teams occupying the playoff berths in the Western and Eastern Conferences will be joined by six more teams to determine the final playoff line-up.

Each of the 22 teams will play eight regular-season games for seeding purposes for the postseason.

The league plans for teams to start training camps in their home cities on June 30 before travelling to Orlando on July 7.

The league wants to have daily testing and if a player tests positive he would be isolated and quarantined.

The others would carry on playing while still being tested on a daily basis.

This year’s regular season was halted abruptly after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive.

Gobert, of France, was given the all-clear about two weeks later.

So far, less than a dozen NBA players have been confirmed as testing positive for the coronavirus although not all have been identified.

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