As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA board of governors will be meeting Thursday to approve of a league plan of return. As announced previously, the return will gather teams in one site at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Though reports of a variety of plans have circulated the last two weeks, Wojnarowski’s report Wednesday afternoon gives indication of where the league is headed:
“The plan includes 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams, eight regular-season games, a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed, and playoffs, sources said.
The top 16 teams in the Eastern and Western conferences will be joined by teams currently within six games of eighth place in the two conferences — New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix and Washington, sources said.”
It appears the one major wrinkle is the addition of a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed in either conference, which will occur if the ninth seed finishes within four games of the eighth seed. The play-in would be a double-elimination for the current eighth place team, and single-elimination for ninth.
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks will return to play currently the seventh seed in the West, with opportunity for movement: 2.5 games out of fourth, and just 1.5 games back of fifth and sixth. More importantly looking at the math, already seven games ahead of the eighth place Memphis Grizzlies, the Dallas Mavericks seem at the very least secure in a postseason play-in situation.
Rick Carlisle and his staff will be tasked with getting the team back in sync, with a short training camp in July, and play set to start July 31 in Orlando. The Mavericks will be without two contributors in Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson, who both sustained injuries that led to surgery and longterm rehab.
League play will carry into the fall, with a possible Game Seven set for October. Details on training, play, and a long list of safety protocols will continue to trickle out in the weeks ahead — as well as implications for the NBA Draft, free agency, and the start of next season. The complexity of what the league is trying to pull off is already overwhelmingly obvious.