- The Washington Times
Sunday, May 31, 2020

The NBA reportedly has a target date of July 31 in mind for a return. Now for the Washington Wizards, it’s a matter of finding out whether they’ll be one of the teams allowed to play when games resume.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver went over four proposals Friday on a phone call with the league’s board of governors, and in only two, the Wizards would qualify to return. When the league halted play in March due to the coronavirus, Washington sat 5½ games back of the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed with a 24-40 record.

Washington’s record matters because its season could be over if the NBA votes to relaunch with only 16 or 20 teams, two of the plans that Silver pitched.

Of the four proposals, the one most beneficial for Washington would likely be the league’s 22-team format. The plan calls for 22 teams — the 16 current playoff teams plus teams six games back from a playoff spot — to take part in a shortened regular season and a play-in tournament for playoff berths in both conferences.

Under that setup, the Wizards would make the cut. The other teams included would be New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento, ESPN reported.

ESPN reported that the NBA is expected to vote on a plan Thursday, with Silver ultimately recommending one of the four proposals.

The league has not reached a consensus yet on which plan to move forward with. To help determine a course of action, the NBA sent a survey to general managers, which found out that 53% are in favor of starting the playoffs right away.

Prominent NBA stars have voiced their reluctancy in resuming games if there was not a viable path to the playoffs. Portland’s Damian Lillard told Yahoo Sports he wouldn’t play in games without a shot at the postseason.

One option, which reportedly has less support, calls for all 30 teams to return. The Athletic reported that format would consist of each team finishing with 72 regular-season games (the Wizards are at 64) and then a play-in tournament to determine the final seeds of the postseason.

The NBA is said to be hesitant of that plan as it wants to limit the number of people at its host site of Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Another scenario in play could be to have 20 teams return in a group stage, World Cup-inspired tournament. It would include the 16 playoff teams plus New Orleans, Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio — the four best teams not in the postseason — and they would then be divided into four groups of five teams. The teams in the groups would play each other twice and eight teams would advance to the next round.

That, of course, would exclude the Wizards, who are waiting to see what the final vote will be.

In the meantime, the Wizards opened their practice facility Friday for the first time since the pandemic.

The Wizards said players will require temperature checks for any player entering the building. Players are also required to wear masks at all times, except for when they’re participating in on-court activity. For now, players are only allowed to work out individually (with one coach or trainer assigned) as the league has not permitted group practices.

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