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NBA could resume play in 6-8 weeks; planning continues

Officials continue to move toward a resumption of the 2019-2020 NBA season, focusing on a plan that has conference play and playoffs held in Las Vegas and Orlando.

Though details are still fluid, several NBA types–like Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry–say they expect the season to resume in July, with Western Conference teams playing in Las Vegas and Eastern Conference teams playing in Orlando.

“I think it will literally be one or two sites,” Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry said Thursday on CNBC. “I think just to make it easier for everybody, it will probably be two sites.

“Maybe have the West on the Vegas side, and the East on the Orlando side.”

Neither site is a surprise: Las Vegas has been discussed as a NBA destination because of an abundance of empty hotel rooms and experience with hosting NBA Summer League games. In Orlando, games would be played at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports of complex. Now closed as part of the wider closure of Disney World, the 255-acre WWoS complex features several venues that can host basketball games closed to fans: HP Field House, the Visa Athletic Center and The Arena. Players, officials and team officials could stay at a nearby closed resort or hotel on Disney property. Disney is a prime financial partner with the NBA via ESPN and ABC broadcast deals.

If there is a two-conference setup, look for the league to play the end of the regular season before playoffs. Money is the driver here: Most contracts between NBA teams and their regional sports networks call for 70 broadcast games, but when the 2019-2020 season was called, teams had played 65 games on average.

Next week will be key to the 2019-2020 season resuming. Negotiations regarding neutral-site controlled play are taking place, a plan to ensure player safety is close to completion and the NBA is also reportedly mulling additional guidelines about player training. In addition, a decision on the season could be determined at a May 29 Board of Governors meeting.

Photo courtesy Disney.

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