It’s been three months of darkness for Utah Jazz fans, but for the first time since March 12, the NBA has a plan to complete the 2019-20 season.
When Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell became the first two NBA players to test positive for COVID-19 on March 11, the league acted quickly and postponed all games, leaving the remainder of the regular season and playoffs in doubt.
On Thursday, June 4, the NBA Board of Governors voted 29-1 to accept a return to play plan, with the first games scheduled to begin Friday, July 31.
Listen: Brian Preece discusses the NBA’s season restart plan.
Unfortunately for Jazz fans, a return to the court does not equal a return to Salt Lake City. Due to continued COVID-19 concerns, the remainder of the NBA season is expected to be played in a ‘campus environment’ on the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
The NBA Players Association confirmed they had agreed to a still-evolving plan.
“Various details remain to be negotiated and the acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the NBPA said in a statement.
While many details will be worked out over the coming weeks, this is what is known so far:
22 teams total — 16 teams in playoff position and six teams within six games of the final seed in each conference — will return to play eight “seeding” games, essentially completing a truncated regular season.
Eastern Conference teams:
- Milwaukee Bucks (53-12)
- Toronto Raptors (46-18)
- Boston Celtics (43-21)
- Miami Heat (41-24)
- Indiana Pacers (39-26)
- Philadelphia 79ers (39-26)
- Brooklyn Nets (30-34)
- Orlando Magic (30-35)
- Washington Wizards (24-40)
Western Conference teams:
- Los Angeles Lakers (49-14)
- Los Angeles Clippers (44-20)
- Denver Nuggets (43-22)
- Utah Jazz (41-23)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (40-24)
- Houston Rockets (40-24)
- Dallas Mavericks (40-27)
- Memphis Grizzlies (32-33)
- Portland Trail Blazers (29-37)
- New Orleans Pelicans (28-36)
- Sacramento Kings (28-36)
- San Antonio Spurs (27-36)
- Phoenix Suns (26-39)
Teams will play already-scheduled games against still-active opponents, with small adjustments yet to be determined.
The “seeding” games begin July 31 and are expected to take 16 days, with five or six games a day being played on three courts within the complex.
If the 9 seed is within four games of the 8 seed after all “seeding” games have been completed, teams 8 and 9 would play a two-game series; the 9 seed must win both games to advance into the playoffs.
Game 7 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Oct. 12.
A three-week training camp in Orlando is expected to start July 9-11.
As collective bargaining continues, questions over roster sizes, player health issues, and COVID-19 testing remain. Additional answers may come within the next two weeks.
After beginning the season with championship aspirations, the Jazz currently sit in fourth place of a loaded Western Conference. But without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, and a host of reported chemistry issues within the locker room, the Jazz will have more than just their opponents to worry about as the season resumes.