The NBA is gearing up for a long-awaited return after the NBPA voted unanimously on Friday to approve the plan the finish out the rest of the season and the playoffs at a bubble location in Disney World Orlando. Beginning on July 31, 22 teams are set to finish out an eight-game regular-season schedule, followed by a play-in tournament to determine the final playoff spots.
The vote comes nearly three full months after the NBA went on indefinite hiatus amid the COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths in the U.S. and an economic catastrophe, the full implications of which likely won’t be understood for years to come.
But the NBA feels confident that they can safely resume the season, while instituting strict precautions designed to keep league personnel to a minimum. With the announcement of the return came plenty of speculation about who might end up in Orlando, specifically whether injured players like Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving might return given the extra time to rehab from injury.
Durant, however, squashed those rumors on Friday, saying definitively via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he does not plan on suiting up for the Nets in Orlando next month.
My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all. We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season.
Curiosity has swirled around Irving as well, although Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that if Irving does indeed travel to Orlando with the Nets, it will be only to support his teammates.
At 30-34 on the season, Brooklyn current holds the No. 7 spot in the East, but given the new format, their tenuous 2.5-game advantage over the No. 8 Magic could put them in a somewhat precarious situation as they fight for the last remaining playoff spots.