N.B.A. Owners Set a July 31 Restart, All in Florida

N.B.A. owners on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a restart plan featuring 22 of the league’s 30 teams at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida in July to complete what the league described as the “first formal step among many required to resume the season.”

The single-site proposal was ratified by a vote of 29 to 1, with the Portland Trail Blazers as the sole opposition, according to a person who was familiar with the results but not authorized to discuss them publicly. According to league rules, a minimum of 23 votes was required to pass the measure put forth by Adam Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner.

The N.B.A. announced after the vote that the league and the National Basketball Players Association remained in negotiations to “finalize a comprehensive season restart plan” aimed at establishing “a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to Covid-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices.”

The N.B.A. would be among the largest and most-watched North American sports leagues to return, following announcements by the N.H.L., Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League that they will resume play in the summer in some fashion.

The league’s return-to-play plan, approved on what would have been the first day of the finals for this season, will next be reviewed by the players’ union, which has scheduled a virtual meeting for its executive committee and individual team representatives on Friday, according to three people with knowledge of the timetable who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The league has been hopeful that the close working relationship that Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul, the union president, maintains with Silver — as well as its ongoing talks with Michele Roberts, the union’s executive director, and other players on the board — is indicative of the players’ desire to approve the plan.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts,” Silver said in a statement. “We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

To earn one of the 22 invitations to Disney World, teams had to be within six games of a playoff berth as of March 11, when the N.B.A. abruptly suspended the season in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Joining the 16 teams that occupied playoff spots on March 11 are five teams from the West (Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix) and Washington from the East.

The season is thus over for Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota and the Knicks — teams that may wind up enduring a nearly nine-month wait for their next competitive game. The N.B.A. revealed Thursday that it was considering opening the 2020-21 season on Dec. 1 rather than its usual start in October.

After it ruled out inviting all 30 teams, the N.B.A. settled on 22 to build a competitive field while also reducing the number of people entering its planned safety bubble in Florida. The league spent much of May looking for a compromise ranging from 20 to 24 teams after deciding that proceeding straight into the playoffs with a 16-team field was not only unfair to the handful of teams within close range of a playoff berth when play was suspended, but that it was also potentially damaging to the overall quality of play.

The league arrived at 22 teams last week for competitive and, of course, financial reasons. Having that many teams participate would enable the N.B.A. to stage what it has called 88 “seeding games” without fans — eight for each team — and up to four playoff play-in games before the postseason. The games would help several teams satisfy their local television contracts and thus lessen some of the revenue losses incurred leaguewide this season.

After the seeding games, the teams that finished ninth in each conference would be granted an opportunity to face the No. 8 seed in a play-in round as long as they were no more than four games back in the standings — with two consecutive wins required for the No. 9 seed to wrest the final playoff spot away. The league would proceed from there with its standard playoff format, featuring four best-of-seven playoff rounds with seeding from 1 to 8 in the East and West, which could take the season from a restart date of July 31 into mid-October.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 2, 2020

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Teams are tentatively expected to report to the Orlando area in the July 7 to 9 range and will soon begin recalling their out-of-town players to ramp up training in their own practice facilities before heading to Disney World, which can stage several games daily in the three arenas available at the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The N.B.A. also confirmed Thursday that if the season resumed July 31 as now scheduled, it would hold the 2020 draft lottery on Aug. 25, followed by the 2020 N.B.A. draft on Oct. 15. Free agency leading into the 2020-21 season would tentatively start on Oct. 18.

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