The main prerequisite for any sort of continuation of the ‘19/’20 season is a significant increase in testing across the United States. The plan that seems to be most likely is a reduced playoff format with teams in Las Vegas or LA, in a kind of a “protective bubble” environment. That scenario assumes a lot of testing on a daily basis.
Those tests need to be reliable, and the results have to be quick. As the NBA is held and holds itself at a high standard, solidarity is essential too. Until such conditions are available for everyone who needs it, the league won’t consider implementing such a plan. We’ll leave it to you to decide how optimistic do you feel about the work the federal government and states have done to make that happen - whatever that level of optimism is, that’s the chance of the season continuing.
Given the enormity of that challenge, more people started to speak up about canceling the season and moving on. Tracy McGrady did so on The Jump, pointing out a return to courts would take a lot of time. Players would need weeks to get back in basketball shape, especially playoffs shape. It would make no sense to have unprepared players playing bad games and risking injury.
“As a player, a former player, I would be in favor of calling the season off. There’s too much to go into to start the season up.”
Tracy McGrady, The Jump
Yes, a lot of money is involved, but cutting bait on this season may preserve the 20/21 season in a significant way. Keep in mind that the longer we wait and hope for ‘19/’20 to continue, there’s less time for ‘20/’21 to roll out in its entirety. Would it make sense to get in a few playoff games and a champion with an asterisk without fans at the cost of regular-season games, potentially with fans?
“Everything is on the table. The direction that the league office has received from our teams is that all rules are off at this point. If there is an opportunity to resume play, even if it looks different from what we’ve done historically, we should be modeling it.”
Adam Silver, The Jump
On the recent episode of “The Mismatch,” Bill Simmons said that his sources say the most likely scenario is a 12-team playoff system (top 6 teams from each conference) over two months, starting in July. The top 2 seeds in each conference would get byes, with a first-round consisting of 3-6 and 4-5 matchups. As far as finishing some portion of the regular season, he said, “there’s no way that’s happening.”
The difficulty of putting something like that together and the risks involved in doing so seem too high, especially if it significantly impacts the next season. Remember, teams that aren’t in the playoffs would probably prioritize more regular-season games in ‘20/’21. Big market teams have large local TV contracts based on regular-season games.
There are a lot of moving parts interacting, and the NBA is doing the best thing possible in saying that all options are open, and every scenario will be examined and simulated. You have a risky playoff tournament on one side, and ‘20/’21 season on the other. We don’t have to like McGrady’s opinion (I know I don’t), but he may be right.