As time goes on, it becomes increasingly unlikely that the NBA will be able to hold any semblance of a regular postseason. In fact, several team and league officials believe that any chance of a traditional postseason format is already out of the question, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.
This makes sense because the playoffs were scheduled to start in mere weeks and there is no end in sight to the restrictions put in place across the world in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Despite the numerous logistical obstacles, the NBA has not given up on the idea of crowning a champion for the 2019-20 campaign. The league has thought about holding the entirety of what would be a truncated postseason in Las Vegas, according to Mannix. The idea there is that the players would all be tested beforehand, and then be quarantined within the confines of designated hotels and training facilities.
Quarantining in one location is the only solution, and Vegas is the only city the NBA is currently giving any kind of serious consideration, per an NBA source... Sending 16 teams to Las Vegas to play games in hollow arenas isn't ideal. But it could evolve into a fun, one-time event that would bring the game back and, more importantly, get the television revenue flowing. Players would likely resist the idea of decamping under one roof; LeBron James already has. But the bet is if it means the paychecks keep coming and a champion will be crowned, they will come around. Even without a team, Las Vegas has become a major NBA market. Soon, it could get even bigger.
The NBA season has been indefinitely suspended since March 11 when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, followed by a plethora of other players and NBA figures from across the landscape of the sport, including New York Knicks owner James Dolan and former MVP Kevin Durant. Despite the current high level of uncertainty surrounding the season, commissioner Adam Silver is optimistic that it can still be salvaged, to an extent.
"I'm optimistic by nature, and I want to believe we're gonna be able to salvage at least some portion of the season," Silver said last month. "Again, I'd say we've done new and creative things in the past, we experimented with this year's All-Star Game with a unique ending, we've talked about play-in tournaments for going into the playoffs, there may be other things we can do with the format. I know I've heard from a lot of our players. They're going stir crazy, they want to play, they want to compete. We're gonna try by every means we can to play basketball again, but the safety and health of our players and fans is first."
While a return to basketball-related activities this season would be great, it's obviously secondary to the health and safety of the teams, players and fans. The NBA will certainly explore all possible avenues, but the situation is fluid, and something that the league can't control. Like everyone else, they just have to hope that the coronavirus can be curbed in a timely manner.