The NBA seems on the cusp of a comeback plan

AP – Something is finally clear in the uncertain NBA: Players believe they’re going to play games again this season.

The obvious questions — How? Where? When? — remain unanswered. Testing, part of the new normal of this coronavirus era, will be a major component to any return-to-play plan that the NBA comes up with. The Disney campus near Orlando, Florida makes so much sense, given its massive size, multiple courts and its ties to league broadcast partner ESPN. And the sooner games begin, the sooner the process of figuring out next season can start as well.

Several people familiar with the details of the conversations have told The Associated Press this week that players around the league are being urged to start getting mentally and physically ready for training camps that could be just a few weeks away. It might not be a unanimously approved notion, but two and a half months into this pandemic-caused shutdown, the NBA finally seems on the cusp of being able to move forward.

“I have faith in Adam Silver and the NBA, and the NBA teams … they’re not going to have us come back if it’s even a question of us getting hurt,” Jared Dudley of the Los Angeles Lakers said this week. “And that’s where the testing, being clean, and doing everything that I feel that they’ll do to keep us safe.”

Pick a scenario for the return-to-play plan, and someone has surely heard it already. Bringing back all 30 teams and resuming the regular season is an option. So is bringing back something like 20 teams and having an expanded playoff of sorts, a notion that essentially mirrors what the NHL is talking about these days. A condensed playoff has also been discussed.

File photo shows NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaking during a news conference at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. PHOTO: AP

The latest sign of momentum: Milwaukee owner Marc Lasry, speaking on Thursday on CNBC, said the NBA’s board of governors will meet again next week and that he believes “within the next six to eight weeks we should be playing.”

Silver, the commissioner who has had to deal with a series of turbulent matters from the strained China relationship in the preseason, to the deaths of David Stern and Kobe Bryant in January, and now a pandemic that will almost certainly affect the league’s financial health for the next several years — is listening to any and all ideas.

“The direction that the league office has received from our teams is, again, all rules are off at this point given the situation we find ourselves in, that the country is in,” Silver said last month. “If there is an opportunity to resume play, even if it looks different than what we’ve done historically, we should be modelling it.”