While the National Hockey League laid out a blueprint for a return to play plan Tuesday, the National Basketball Association remains in the planning stages with answers expected to come soon.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver will conduct a conference call with team general managers Thursday and then with the Board of Governors Friday, allowing him to absorb final opinions and recommendations from management and ownership of the league’s franchises. With ESPN reporting that union president Michele Roberts is checking in and explaining options to players from every team this week, the stage is set for Silver finally to move forward with a way back.
The NBA has been in talks with the Walt Disney Corporation to use the Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando as a one-site location for the resumption of a season that was suspended after games of March 11. But there are still plenty of decisions to be made, including, most importantly, who will be playing.
The NBA has yet to decide whether the resumption of the season will include all 30 teams or a smaller pool of teams. The NHL plan has 24 of the 31 teams involved, adding eight teams to the normal 16 playoff pool to give a chance to teams who were still in the race for a postseason spot.
While there may be differing opinions from teams on whether they would want to return to run out a schedule with no chance at a playoff spot, one prominent player came forward publicly Tuesday stating he’d have no interest in playing games if it could not lead to a playoff berth.
"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team,” Damian Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there.
"If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that [expletive] and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games. If they come back and say it's something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we're playing for playoff spots, then I think that's perfect."
Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers are currently tied for ninth place in the Western Conference, 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot.
With New Jersey’s decision Tuesday to allow teams to open facilities in the state, the Philadelphia 76ers became the 22nd team to allow players to resume workouts in the team practice facilities. The Knicks are one of the eight still shuttered teams and team sources say there is no update yet as they wait for league directives on a plan forward.