While the NBA’s return is not imminent — reports indicate things will tip back off on July 31 — the approval of a plan by the league’s Board of Governors appears to be a day away. According to reporting by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Adam Silver will bring forth a plan that the board is expected to approve on Thursday, one which will clear the path to games restarting at the end of next month.
The plan involves 22 teams heading to Orlando, with the 16 teams that were in the playoffs before the league’s COVID-19 shutdown gaining entry along with six squads that were on the outside looking in. Wojnarowski brought word of the six additional squads, which features five teams from the Western Conference.
Sources: Joining the 16 current playoff teams in Orlando: New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Antonio in the West and Washington in the East. If the 9th seed is more than 4 games behind the 8th, No. 8 makes playoffs; Fewer than 4 games, a play-in tournament.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento all sit 3.5 games back of the 8-seed, currently held by the Memphis Grizzlies. San Antonio, meanwhile, is ever so slightly behind them, as they’re four games back. The gaps for both Phoenix and Washington, meanwhile, are a bit larger — the Wizards are 5.5-games behind Orlando in the east, the Suns are six games back in the West.
The proposal comes on the heels of Blazers star Damian Lillard saying that he would not participate in games if Portland did not have a path to making the playoffs. These teams will eventually participate in a play-in tournament for the 8-seed, and Charania laid out how that will work, writing that “If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth.”