It looks like the NBA has figured out how to work together to get players back to work.  While MLB owners still battle with players how to get back on the diamond, the professional basketball league has been coming together in an effort to crank up the season beginning July 31, and it looks like the NBA return is a done deal.

There have been – and still are – details that need to be resolved before the league can definitively say that it’s ready, but, according to The Athletic, the NBA is ready to approve a plan of attack that will allow basketball to wrap up the 2019-20 season with style.

Is NBA Return Now Done Deal?

One of the biggest topics on the list of issues to be resolved has been how many games to play if and when the season were restarted.  According to the rumors floating around the league, the NBA Board of Governors fully intends to support a 22-team format ahead of the NBA Finals, with all games being held in Orlando, FL.  The final word on the approval (or unlikely rejection) will be known after the board gets together to vote on the subject tomorrow.  That conference call is expected to take place at 12:30 PM Eastern Time.

Once approved, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will then break down the plan with players, but the idea is to see 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams battling it out on the courts at Walt Disney World in Orlando.  There would be eight regular-season games, a potential play-in tournament to pick up the eighth seed and, finally, the playoffs.

The league’s 16 leading teams from both conferences in the NBA standings would be joined by six teams that are currently only six games behind eighth place in their respective conferences.  These include New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio and Washington, and a follow-on play-in tournament would include the eighth- and ninth-ranked teams, provided the ninth seed can finish within four games of the eighth seed.

If the difference is more than four games, then the eighth seed will automatically advance.  Making things even more confusing, the eighth seed gets a head start.  The play-in tournament, if required, will be a best-of-three format, and number eight will go in 1-0.  Number nine will have to win twice if it wants to advance, while number eight only has to take one victory.

The NBPA Still Has To Say Yes

Unlike MLB, which has been strongly divided over money, the NBA has been able to work more closely on a resolution to get a return closer to a done deal.  The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has been in almost constant contact with Silver to iron out a plan, and the determination is paying off.  Just as the Board of Governors is expected to say yes to the modified season, the NBPA should sign off on it, as well, allowing the league to move forward with its July 31 relaunch target.

How The Schedule Will Look

Based on the proposed idea, this is how things could look as the NBA season resumes in Orlando:

Eastern Conference:

Milwaukee Bucks

Toronto Raptors

Boston Celtics

Miami Heat

Indiana Pacers

Philadelphia 76ers

Brooklyn Nets

Orlando Magic

Western Conference:

Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Clippers

Denver Nuggets

Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder

Houston Rockets

Dallas Mavericks

Memphis Grizzlies

Plus, the aforementioned six teams that are essentially taking up “wild card” positions.

Initially, there was talk of having all 30 teams participate instead of just 22.  However, this plan was scrapped due to the fact that it would mean another several hundred individuals would be in Orlando, increasing the risk of another coronavirus issue.  In addition, the eight teams that aren’t included were considered to be too far out of the running for a sport in the playoffs to make their presence worthwhile.