Report: NBA Expected to Postpone 2020 Draft Lottery, Combine Amid COVID-19

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 1, 2020

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum announces that the Los Angeles Lakers had won the fourth pick during the NBA basketball draft lottery Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nuccio DiNuzzo)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Associated Press

The NBA draft lottery and NBA Scouting Combine are scheduled for later this month, but Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that both events are expected to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The calendar has flipped to May 1 and a month expected to nudge the NBA into some firm decision-making about various aspects of the 2019-20 season is upon us ... after Adam Silver insisted on an April of 'listening mode.'

"Likely among the first issues to confront: The NBA will have to make formal decisions on its May 19 draft lottery and the May 21-24 draft combine in Chicago. It is expected both events will soon be postponed officially.

"As long hope persists for the resumption of the NBA season -- and the league, as discussed earlier, intends to give the current season every chance to be restored in some fashion -- teams understand that this month's lottery (and potentially the June 25 draft) will have to wait."

The NBA season was suspended on Wednesday, March 11, after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. There is no timetable for the league's return.

However, there remains strong optimism for a return to play at some point this year.

"Across the league, an overwhelming majority of high-level officials remain encouraged and optimistic that basketball will return this season," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski wrote Thursday.

Wojnarowski also reported the following thoughts from various league higher-ups:

"Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has spoken on the possible resumption of play a number of times during the NBA hiatus, was among the front-office executives to address a potential return Thursday, telling 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 hopes that the NBA would resume at some point."

If the league does return, it could end up finishing its season out at Walt Disney World outside Orlando, Florida, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer explained why it could work:

"Disney World makes so much sense for the NBA if games end up resuming. There are multiple courts already equipped to handle live broadcasts and more than enough hotels. The fact Disney is a private property makes the 'bubble' less challenging to manage than a city like Las Vegas."

The league can't just return to play immediately, as a few factors are involved. Namely, players would have to ramp up their workout activity to be ready to take part in the season's conclusion. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the league is looking at a 25-day window to do just that.

Another factor is whether the American public, namely healthcare workers, have access to widespread COVID-19 testing.

Per Wojnarowski, Silver has insisted that the league cannot return to play unless that occurs.

Sources told Wojnarowski that it is believed the NBA needs around 15,000 tests to safely complete its season. The NBA can procure those tests on their own through various manufacturers.

Another sign for optimism is that the league is willing to push back the 2020-21 season to a December start, per Wojnarowski, giving the 2019-20 campaign more time to finish out.

Ultimately, the lottery and NBA Scouting Combine don't look like they'll be taking place until well into the summer. It's also conceivable that the lottery is held virtually and that the combine doesn't occur at all.

Until then, the NBA is in a holding pattern as it looks to resume play in a safe manner.