The NBA gave teams a more definitive timetable for the restart to the pandemic-interrupted season Friday, including required coronavirus testing that is set to begin this month and mandatory individual workouts in early July before training camps.
The league is still working on completing the health and safety protocols that will essentially become the rulebook for the restart at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida — and told teams that talks with the National Basketball Players Association on those issues are continuing.
Meanwhile, a person with direct knowledge of the talks said that Disney workers who will be on the campus during the NBA restart will have to follow a long list of protocols — including constant mask or other appropriate personal protective equipment usage when in the vicinity of any NBA participants or others there for the restart, strict social distancing guidelines and a submission to daily temperature checks and symptom self-assessments.
There are other requirements that will also apply to those working in housekeeping and food service, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because those details have not been revealed publicly. The NBPA has said player health and safety will be a top priority, and there are still many concerns about how things will work once teams arrive at Disney.
But with negotiations on many levels apparently far enough along to determine a schedule of sorts, the league gave teams the go-ahead to immediately start allowing two assistant coaches to deal with voluntary player workouts. The rule had been one coach with one player since teams were given the green light to re-open facilities for the voluntary workouts last month.
NBA head coaches can be one of those two coaches involved in the voluntary sessions starting June 23, though social distancing and other rules the league applied in response to the pandemic would still apply.
June 23 is significant in another way as well. That would be the first day players on the 22 teams that will be going to the Disney campus would be required to undergo coronavirus testing conducted by those teams.
The league also said it is still working on plans for the eight teams — Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota and New York — that will not be part of the restart at Disney. Those teams can keep their facilities open for now for voluntary workouts until told otherwise.
The rest of the league’s timetable, as of now and with the caveat that it is still considered tentative until the health protocols are done and agreements with Disney are signed, includes:
- July 1 through July 7, 8 or 9 — Required individual workouts for players on the 22 participating teams, with the end date coinciding with which day that team would arrive at the Disney campus.
- July 7, 8 and 9 — Arrivals at the Disney campus in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
- July 9-29 — Team training camps at Disney, which would follow initial health and safety screenings upon arrival.
- July 21 or 22 — Start date for three intersquad scrimmages for each team. The scrimmages will be scheduled by the NBA and will have NBA referees.
- July 30-August 14 — Seeding games at Disney. Games will resume. The NBA is still working on completing the schedule for those eight games per team, and the matchups will be based on regular-season games that remained when the league suspended play on March 11.
- Aug. 15-16 — The two-game play-in series to determine the No. 8 seed in each conference, if necessary. The series would be necessary if the team in ninth place in either conference when the seeding games end is within four games of the No. 8 team. A best-of-two series would be played, with the ninth-place team needing to go 2-0 in those games to earn a playoff berth. Otherwise, the No. 8 team would take that seed and move into the conference quarterfinals.
- Aug. 17 — Playoffs begin. This date would move up to Aug. 15 or 16 if the play-in series are unnecessary. The playoffs are all scheduled as traditional best-of-seven series.
- Aug. 30 — A limited number of family members and guests of remaining teams will be permitted to arrive at Disney for the first time. They would stay on the Disney property. They will not be permitted until this point in the schedule.
- Aug. 31-Sept. 13 — Conference semifinals.
- Sept. 15-28 — Conference finals.
- Sept. 30-Oct. 13 — NBA Finals. The league originally planned an Oct. 12 end date, though that has now been adjusted.
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