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Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz practices dribbling prior to Game Four during the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 22, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
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NBA Exploring 25-Day Return To Action Plan

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz practices dribbling prior to Game Four during the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on April 22, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA is trying to chart a course to return to finish the 2019-20 NBA season. Wednesday was scheduled to be the final day of the regular season had the league not been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, with the postseason officially launching over the weekend. Now, the league is hoping to salvage as many games as possible before crowning a champion for the season.

In addition to determining exactly how many games the league can squeeze into an abbreviated summer window, the NBA must find the safest way for its players to return to action by both limiting their exposure to the virus while feeling comfortable with the physical conditioning of its players.

According to a recent report from ESPN, some of that conditioning may be possible for players to complete at home, allowing the league to get a head start on returning to the floor.

One proposed idea would set in a place a 25-day return to action plan, with players completing the first 11 days of conditioning in isolation before returning for a two-week mini-camp.

NBA front offices and medical staffs have reportedly expressed concern about risking injury to the league’s players by returning to play after the sudden hiatus. Traditional NBA training camps run from a media day in late September to the opening day of the regular season in late October. The first preseason games are played roughly a week after the team first returns from the summer hiatus.

Should the league return to action, the NBA must decide if it plans to play a schedule featuring all 30 franchises to finish an abbreviated regular season, or if practicality favors bypassing the regular season and jumping directly into the playoffs.

Skipping the final stretch of the regular season would allow 14 NBA teams to begin their summer preparation and decrease the risk fo further injury or exposure to the coronavirus. As it stands, only four teams across the league sit outside of the current playoff standings with a realistic opportunity to climb into the postseason with an abbreviated close to the regular season.

The San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, and Portland Trailblazers all sit within four games of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. No team in the Eastern Conference sits within five games of the Orlando Magic. However, even in the more crowded West, the Blazers, Pelicans, and Kings all sit a full 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies, making a late push to qualify for the postseason highly unlikely.

If the league does return a play, finishing the season in Las Vegas, Nevada seems to be the favored choice among league officials. Vegas hosts the NBA’s summer league with two neighboring arenas and an infrastructure designed to hold as many teams as the league chooses to compete.

Should each team travel to Vegas to complete the season, even if the league were to chose to return to play beginning in the postseason, the NBA could hold exhibitions games matching Eastern Conference and Western Conference teams to avoid potential playoff previews in these preseason matchups.

Two Utah Jazz players offered their thoughts and what might be required before playing actual games during the league’s hiatus.

On a Facebook Live stream, Donovan Mitchell told Jazz broadcast analysts Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring that the team would need time to get back into playing shape and to find a rhythm.


“If we do get back to playing we’re going to need a lot of time to build our way back into it,” Mitchell said, “It’s not just the getting in shape stuff but finding that rhythm. We were really at our peak or getting towards that peak time as far as rhythm goes and now that’s got to restart.”

Jazz guard Joe Ingles voiced his desire for an opportunity to get back into shape before returning to action.

“Nothing simulates playing basketball,” Ingles said on an NBA Instagram Live video, “Regardless of if and when we get to go back and play, there’s going to have to be some component of a mini-training camp or something, we can run all we want, and lift as many weights, run up the mountains here in Utah, but it’s not going to simulate the five on five of a game.”

NBA teams have already designed specific training programs designed for each of its players to stay in shape while isolating. Depending on the space and accessibility players have to workout and basketball equipment, teams have been providing exercise bikes and routines for its players to attempt to simulate game activities.

 

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