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According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Cuban sketched out a plan in which teams would play five to seven regular-season games. From there, the top 10 teams from each conference would move on to the postseason.
The final two playoff seeds would be determined by a play-in tournament:
“A point Cuban emphasizes is that all but two teams — the exceptions being the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors — would have a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the postseason under his proposal. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, the teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, are four games behind the 10th-place Charlotte Hornets.”
While nothing is finalized, the NBA has zeroed in on the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, as the hub for games assuming the 2019-20 season resumes.
The big question now is whether the league would have every team participate and play out regular-season games or move ahead with the playoffs.
The more franchises the NBA brings to Orlando—or a different site—means more work the league will have to do to limit the possible spread of the coronavirus. The odds of a positive COVID-19 test would grow as well.
However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Bobby Marks and Tim Bontemps explained on The Hoop Collective podcast how player salaries are tied to the regular season. The players are receiving lower paychecks due to the pandemic, and canceling games would mean forfeiting more money.
Likewise, 70 games is the magic number for teams to fulfill their local television contracts. The number of games played ranges from 63 (Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs) to 67 (Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks).
Given the health risks involved, some players on teams with slim or nonexistent hopes of reaching the postseason may not be keen on playing out the regular season. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said as much to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.