NBA to postpone 2020 draft, has support to start 20-21 season in December

ESPN making changes to NBA draft lottery coverage

Although the NBA draft lottery and scouting combine are both scheduled for later this month, NY Times’ Marc Stein has reported events will be postponed due to the pandemic – to be rescheduled later once it’s clear how the 2019-20 season finishes.

The NBA season was suspended on March 11, after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Currently, there is no timetable on the league’s return but there is strong optimism leaguewide that play will resume at some stage in 2020.

For this reason, it doesn’t make sense for the draft process to continue, as teams will be affected by the existing standings and their respective records before play was halted.

Overnight, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski had this to say on the situation:

“Across the league, an overwhelming majority of high-level officials remain encouraged and optimistic that basketball will return this season. Still, the pathway remains cluttered.

“If league commissioner [Adam] Silver has learned anything about the coronavirus’ impact on his league, it’s how the pandemic is forcing leaders to probe contingencies on top of contingencies, rethinking everything and re-evaluating it all again.”

More from Woj: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has spoken repeatedly on the possibility of play resuming, told CNN that he was ‘cautiously optimistic we’ll be able to finish the season’, but that he expected fans not to be in attendance for games.

Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry and San Antonio Spurs CEO R.C. Buford also expressed their desire for the NBA to resume at some stage.

Adam Silver has insisted the league cannot return to play unless the American public have access to widespread COVID-19 testing.

On Wednesday, Shams Charania (The Athletic, Stadium) reported if the league does return, they may end up finishing the 19-20 season at Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Florida.

Although it may seem peculiar on first viewing, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor explained why playing games there could work:

However, that’s not without caveats too. Getting players, employees, workers and other personnel all to Florida and then Disney comes with significant risks, while play cannot just return immediately either.

Players need to ramp up their workout activity to be sufficiently prepared, with ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reporting that the league is looking at a 25-day window to do that.

However, fans remain sceptical. How can things resume under such circumstances?

On April 30, the US had the most new deaths (2,201) and cases (30,829) worldwide. Today, they have 875,696 active cases – 15,226 of which are described as serious and critical.

Update correct to 12:29 GMT

Silver has insisted the league cannot return to play unless the American public have access to widespread COVID-19 testing.

League willing to push back 20-21 season to December start

As far as the league resuming is concerned, one sign for optimism is the league’s willingness to push back the 2020-21 season to a December start, according to Woj.

This gives the 19-20 campaign more time to finish, as seasons traditionally begin in late October. As well as this, the longer they can delay, the more likely fans will be allowed to return to stadiums as COVID-19 vaccines are not expected to be available until 2021.

With that being said, it’s unlikely that regardless of their next decision, the draft lottery and scouting combine will take place until late into the summer months at least.

There’s a good chance they mirror the NFL’s decision to complete the draft virtually, while a pre-draft combine is not feasible anytime soon.

Information source: ESPN and Bleacher Report

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