NBA eyes July 31 for post-coronavirus return to play: Report

Silver proposed four potential formats for a return to play during the call with NBA team owners.

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The NBA has set a target date of July 31 to restart its 2019-2020 season after a lengthy pause in play during the coronavirus pandemic, although the exact plan for its comeback has yet to be finalized.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver set the tentative date during a call with team owners on Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The league hasn’t played a game since mid-March.

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Silver proposed four potential formats for a return to play during the call. Possibilities included the resumption of the regular season with all 30 teams in play; a 22-team format with a short slate of games and a play-in tournament before the playoffs and a 20-team format with World Cup-style group states.

The fourth scenario called for the NBA to cancel the rest of the regular season and proceed to a traditional 16-team playoffs.

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The NBA conducted a survey of the league’s 30 team general managers about their preferred comeback plan. A majority of GMs said they would prefer to proceed directly to a 16-team playoff, according to survey results obtained by ESPN.

The NBA became the first U.S. sports league to suspend play on March 12 after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The league recently allowed teams to resume workouts on a limited basis and in accordance with local public health guidance.

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Games are expected to be played without fans at a hub location in a single city. The NBA confirmed earlier this month that it was in talks to return in late July at the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida.

“Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.

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