ORLANDO— The NBA’s return took another step forward when on Thursday, June 4 it was announced that the NBA board of governors voted 29-1 to approve the league’s restart after its suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The tentative start date for the league to resume is currently set for July 31. 

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He continues,  “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season safely and responsibly based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

The league will resume in Orlando, Florida with a 22-team format, with nine of those teams coming from the Eastern Conference and 13 of them coming from the Western Conference. The teams consist of the top eight teams from each conference as well as an additional six teams who were within six games of a playoff position before the league’s suspension. 

The following teams will represent each conference for the resumed season:

Eastern Conference: Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards

Western Conference: Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns.

Each team will play eight regular-season games based on the remaining games they had scheduled for the regular season. 

Based on the combined regular season and “reseeding” records, the top seven teams of each conference will advance to playoffs, which will be held in its traditional seven-game format. The eighth and ninth seeds will compete in a play-in tournament if the ninth seed is within four games from the eighth seed. If so, the ninth seed team will need to win two games to advance past the play-in tournament, while the eighth seed will only need to win one game.

Games will be held at the Walt Disney World Resort within the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The NBA’s plan however is contingent on the Walt Disney Company agreeing to allow the use of their facilities for games, practices, and housing. 

Proper health protocols, which will include the regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices, will be followed throughout the campus while public health experts and government officials assist in preventing COVID-19 from spreading through the facility.

The plan comes after multiple talks between the NBA and the NBA Players Association on how best to navigate through the situation with the best interest in mind for the franchises and the players. The NBPA’s player representatives will hold a conference call on Friday to approve the proposal according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

If the league does resume on July 31, then the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery would be rescheduled for August 25, and the 2020 NBA Draft would then be held on October 15. The start of the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on Dec. 1, 2020.