The NBA has reportedly taken another step toward resuming its suspended season. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the league's Board of Governors will hold a vote Thursday and is expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver's recommended format to finish the campaign at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The league suspended its season March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. It has stayed suspended as the disease became a pandemic that has caused over 5.7 million confirmed cases worldwide, per the World Health Organization.
But all signs indicate the NBA will eventually resume its season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
At least eight teams' seasons appear over, however, as Wojnarowski and ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe reported the final figure is expected to be between 20 and 22.
"Owners are largely planning to pledge support for Silver's final recommendation on a plan, which teams expect to include invitations for 20-to-22 teams to resume the season," Woj wrote.
Therefore, finishing out the remainder of the regular-season campaign, which featured just over one month of games left on the ledger, is out of the question.
Shelburne provided more specifics on what a return to play would look like.
"Among the four plans discussed on the Board of Governors call today was one in which teams that are within six games of a playoff spot would be invited to compete in regular season games, then a play-in tourney for the final playoff spots, sources told ESPN.
"Why six games? Because historically teams haven’t been able to come back from more than five games with this amount of games remaining on the schedule.
"Regardless of how many teams are invited, one thing the players have continuously stressed is that they don’t want to go straight to the playoffs. They need time to shake the rust off both for competitive reasons and injury risk."
The six teams that happen to reside within six games of the 16-team playoff field are the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers. They would round out a 22-team competition.
A 20-team field would likely cut out the Wizards (5.5 games back in the East) and Suns (six games behind in the West) with the other four franchises within four games of the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies in the West.
In regards to the four plans Shelburne referenced, Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic provided some specifics, noting that the plans contained 16-, 20-, 22- and 30-team scenarios.
With 16 and 30 likely out of the question, it's down to 20 or 22. Per Charania, a 20-team return plan involves group/stage play, and a 22-team ledger consists of a shortened finish to the regular season plus a play-in tournament for the final postseason seeds, as Shelburne referenced.
Charania also reported that the NBA is targeting a July 31 return date.