NBA, Disney in Talks to Resume Season in Late July

Feb 15, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a press conference during NBA All Star Saturday Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA confirmed early this afternoon that it is having exploratory talks with the Walt Disney Company about a plan to resume the 2019-20 NBA season.

The plan includes playing games at the Walt Disney Company’s Wide of World Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The complex would serve as a single site for games, practices, and housing for players, according to NBA spokesperson Mike Bass. Bass said in a statement that the NBA Players Association is included in the negotiations. The NBA made the statement available via Twitter.

The 2019-20 season became one of the earliest victims of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The NBA season was suspended indefinitely on March 11, after it was learned that Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The suspension created a wave of confusion that crashed over fans and players alike. Some games were called right before tip-off. No games or official team practices have been held since March 11.

ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that the NBA’s board of governors has a meeting scheduled for May 29, where they are expected to tell teams to have their players report respective markets around June 1.

ESPN senior writer Ramona Shelburne reported on May 23 that it is unclear how the NBA will resume the remainder of the season. It is not known if teams will finish out the remainder of the regular season and then go into the playoffs, or if teams will instead go directly to a postseason tournament format.

Sports Illustrated reported on May 20 that Orlando is the frontrunner to host the 2020 postseason. Sports Illustrated writer Michael Shapiro said in that report that Walt Disney World is “confident” that it will host basketball in 2020, adding that a quarantined playoff could be held at the Wide World of Sports complex.

The Walt Disney Company’s Wide World of Sports complex features an arena that houses six regulation-sized basketball courts. The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported earlier this week that Walt Disney World has the hotel capacity to make such a plan work. The Amway Center, the home of the Orlando Magic, is not far down the road.

To this point, the NBA and Walt Disney World are still negotiating. Walt Disney World in Orlando has the capacity to house multiple teams if not the entire league. Other cities, like Las Vegas and Houston, have also been considered as sites for NBA games this season.

If anything is clear, it’s that the NBA and its teams are proactively exploring ways to put players back on the court and finish out the 2019-20 season.

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