The NBA has been off since mid-March, as the country deals with the fallout of COVID-19. We've seen the return of some sports begin, both here and overseas, and now we have a timeline for when basketball may be able to finish up.
The league shut down on Wednesday, March 11. Utah Jazz star center Rudy Gobert was the first major sports star in the U.S. to test positive for COVID-19. Others followed, including his star teammate Donovan Mitchell, and others like Brooklyn Nets standout Kevin Durant.
According to NBA insider Shams Charania, the league is hoping to return in the middle of the summer. He is reporting that commissioner Adam Silver has set a target date of July 31 for a return to action. That will put the total shutdown at over 20 full weeks.
Other details on how things will shake out are not yet firm. It is looking likely that the league will try and play at a single site, likely at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a Disney property in Orlando. There is also a significant debate over how to proceed with the season and playoffs.
A few different options for the season restart are being weighed. Among them: sending the current 16 teams that are in the playoffs as of now directly to the postseason, a slightly expanded 20-team World Cup style group stage to determine the playoff teams, something that has been floated by The Ringer, and play-in tournaments to determine the final seeds on either side of the playoff field.
Most NBA teams have played around 65 games. At least a few games will be necessary to get players up to speed before playoff rounds, in all likelihood. That has opened the debate for whether teams that are clearly out of the playoffs should even be asked to go through everything necessary to play in a few games to end their seasons.
Obviously there is a ton that still needs to be worked out, but it is exciting to see a somewhat official target date out there.