INDIANAPOLIS — NBA owners have approved a plan to restart the season interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic with a 22-team format based at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida starting in late July.
The 22-team plan includes all teams that were holding playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a postseason berth.
The format means the season would be over for the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Atlanta, Cleveland, New York, Golden State, Detroit, Chicago and Charlotte.
The National Basketball Players Association has a call on Friday to approve the plan as well.
“While we are disappointed for our team and our fans that our season is coming to an end, we understand and accept the league’s plan to move forward with 22 teams," Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas said in a statement. "It is important that we be a good teammate not only to the NBA, but to the other 29 teams to support the efforts to complete this season and prepare for next season in a healthy and safe manner."
Rosas said the Wolves would instead focus on preparing for the 2020-21 season.
“Our offseason program will be intensive and thorough to make sure our players continue their development and are prepared for the start of the 2020-21 season. Our head coach Ryan Saunders, his assistants and our performance staff will be creative, aggressive and proactive to deal with a period of inactivity that we have not dealt with before. We built good momentum as a team following the trade deadline and our basketball staff will diligently continue to work through our team building processes, including the draft and free agency, as we continue to look for ways to improve our team during this pivotal offseason," Rosas said. “We will also use this offseason to work tirelessly to help our community heal, to influence change and to promote thoughtful actions in response to recent events.”
The format calls for each of the 22 participating teams playing eight games to determine playoff seeding plus the possible utilization of a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference postseason fields.
Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and reigning NBA champion Toronto had already clinched playoff berths. Now with only eight games remaining for each team, it means that eight other clubs — Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City and Houston — have postseason spots secured, and Dallas virtually has one as well.
That leaves nine teams vying for three remaining playoff berths. In the East, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington are in the race for two spots. In the West, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix will jostle for one spot.
Meanwhile, a person speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details of the ongoing talks have not been publicly released, said the NBPA and the NBA are continuing to work on a “lengthy" medical protocols document. The details of that document will be shared with teams once those discussions are completed, said the person, who added that teams should receive them in plenty of time for them to prepare for their arrivals at the Disney-ESPN complex.
The NBA also said it is planning to have the draft lottery Aug. 25, the draft on Oct. 15 and start next season on Dec. 1.