Morning, friends. Hope you’re well as we head into the weekend.
NBA owners have formally presented their plan for restarting the 2019-20 season, and it’s going to be fascinating as hell. Twenty-two teams will be invited to Camp NBA in Orlando — the 16 teams currently holding playoff slots plus six more with a shot at playing their way in. There’ll be an eight-game regular season, and then the playoffs begin (with the possibility of a play-in series if the eighth- and ninth-seeded teams are within four games of one another).
That’s going to be glorious chaos, and as a basketball fan, I love it.
You know what’s going to be not-so-glorious chaos? The prospect of testing and containing an estimated thousand-plus players, coaches, team officials, families, service staff, etc. etc. in Orlando. Yes, COVID-19 may have left the front pages for now, but it’s still very much a public health threat.
What happens if (when) a player tests positive? How many players on a team would have to test positive in order to shut down that team entirely? The NBA hasn’t yet disclosed those details, probably because it’s still working on them.
Another element to consider: the domino impact of all this. The 2020-21 NBA season is now tentatively scheduled to start Dec. 1, a month later than usual and less than two months after the end of the current season. Will that push next year’s playoffs later into the summer? Will teams have to tighten up off days or shorten seasons? Will players that decide to play in next summer’s Olympics (don’t say it) just collapse into puddles from exhaustion?
Yes, this is not unlike putting on your parachute after you’ve jumped out of the plane, but the simple announcement that basketball’s coming back is enough to warm the hearts of fans who enjoyed The Last Dance and endless Finals replays but are ready for, you know, real games.
Plus, we get to see more LeBron, more Kawhi, more Giannis, more Zion. (Alas, no more Vince Carter and no KD at all.) This is going to be one of the most intense, remarkable stretches in NBA history, and it’s anyone’s call as to who’s going to end up the champion. (Bonus: the ‘should a championship come with an asterisk?’ question will keep sports talk radio humming all summer long.)
For now, we’ve got plenty of questions with absolutely no answers. But at long last, we can start asking them again.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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