Controversy. That’s the better word to characterize the return process of the NBA, with several changes, but the uncertainty has come to an end and now it is official: the north American basketball league has its return scheduled for July 30th and it will take place on a “hive” in Orlando, Florida, at the Walt Disney Resort.

22 TEAMS TO FINISH THE SEASON, WITH SOME NEWS

NBA decided that the top 8 placed teams of each conference and the teams who are 6 or less games away from the first playoff spot will be part of the small set of teams who will play in Orlando the final stretch of the regular season, with some differences for the regular format and then the “play-offs”.

That means that 22 of the 30 NBA teams will return to competition from the end of this month of July, and there are still some possibilities of a second “bubble” being created for the other 8 teams in the league (Hornets, Bulls, Knicks, Pistons, Hawks, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Warriors), in Chicago, on next September.

“PLAY-IN” TO INCREASE THE COMPETITIVENESS

If the difference between the 8th and 9th places of each conference is less than 5.5 victories, there will be a designated “play-in” to determine which team will qualify for the playoffs.

THE FLEXIBILITY NEEDED DUE TO COVID-19

Despite Florida being one of the most affected North American states by the pandemic and new positive cases appearing on several teams at a worrying pace, the NBA chose Orlando as the final destination for the “bubble” created for the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.

No player is forced to play in this new format created for the return of the league, and there will not be penalizations associated to it.

Those who don’t play, however, won’t receive their salary during the hiatus period.

NBA returns on July 30th, with or without the pandemic

Between July 7th and 9th, both teams start to arrive in Orlando, with the start of practices scheduled from the 9th onwards, with the participation of the players who test negative for the new coronavirus, on a series of several tests before the start of activities.

The safety protocol defined by the NBA for the return is superb, complex (a total of 113 pages) and it promises to cover everything, despite the criticism that the resume has been getting.

THE COMPLEX LOGISTIC OF THE ARRIVAL IN ORLANDO

As soon as they arrive in Orlando, through charter flights, the players head towards the Disney World complex. After reaching the hotel, the superstars will have to through a first COVID-19 test and wear a bracelet that will serve as a room key and an instrument to monitor the tests.

While they wait for the result of the test, that can take between 24 to 48 hours, the players will have to be in lockdown on their respective hotel rooms, with no contact with any other team member.

After this first step is concluded, there will be two more tests with a 24-hour interval. Then, at least during a first stage, Adam Silver, NBA commissioner is pointing towards performing daily tests to the players.

Needless to say, that the league’s logistics ensures a huge set of activities and entertainment, with all comfort and luxury you can imagine on an organization from this kind.

WHAT IF A PLAYER TESTS POSITIVELY ALREADY ON THE BUBBLE?

Similarly to what is taking place in Europe when the measures for the return of football were announced, the NBA also ensured that the competition won’t stop again due to “some” positive coronavirus tests.

If a player tests positive, he will immediately be put into isolation outside of the Disney complex, where he will stay for a minimum of 14 days, so that he can be better monitored.

After testing negative for COVID-19 on two tests, with a 1-day interval, the player will be free to return to his activity.

Those, who for any reason, abandon the “bubble” will have to be subject to a 10-days quarantine to return, except for the cases where the authorizations are previously granted (Gordon Hayward, from the Boston Celtics, whose wife should give birth in September, is one of the examples).

LOS ANGELES “DERBY” ON THE RETURN

Between July 22nd and 28th, each team will play three preparation games, that won’t be broadcasted on television.

On the 30th, there are two official games of the regular season already scheduled, with a great matchup: the Jazz (odds of 2.02) facing the Pelicans (odds of 1.63), while the Clippers (1.88) and the Lakers (1.79) will be featured in another Los Angeles “derby” (the series, for now, is favourable to the Clippers, by 2-1) with odds from the best online bookmakers.

With an average of 6 games a day, the schedule is already defined until August 14th, but there are still a lot of doubts regarding the final composition of the rosters that will be at the disposal of the coaches on the return of the competition, due to the appearance of several positive cases of coronavirus in the NBA community and some withdrawals.

SEVERAL PLAYERS SAY “NO” TO THE RETURN

Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets), Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers), Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers), Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz), Kelly Oubre Jr. (Phoenix Suns), Davis Bertans (Washington Wizarsds) AND LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs) are some of the most famous names who will stay out of the “bubble” of the return of the NBA.

Some because they’re recovering from injuries, others by option. Bradley’s absence on the Lakers is very important, especially due to the relevance that the guard has on the defensive process of one of the biggest title contenders.

The justification has to do with the fact that Bradley has a son with respiratory problems and the fact he wants to dedicate himself to the racial fight and rights’ equality.

SEVEN TRAINING CENTRES FORCED TO CLOSE

After the detection of positive cases from the new coronavirus amongst the respective entourages, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings were forced to close down their respective training centres.

There are already more then 25 positive COVID-19 cases in the NBA, on a list that has been increasing in the past couple of days and that is expected not to stop increasing, just like Adam Silver already admitted.

One of the teams that will be weaker due to the pandemic situation will be the Brooklyn Nets. Adding to the absences of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both with long term injuries, the team from New York saw DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie testing positive for COVID-19, on a list of absences that also included Wilson Chandler, for his own option.

J.R. SMITH GETS BACK TOGETHER WITH LEBRON, JOKIC RECOVERED

To remedy the absence provoked by the unavailability of Avery Bradley, the Los Angeles Lakers have signed, until the end of the season, with J.R. Smith, guard who has been inactive since 2018 and that won a championship ring with LeBron James, for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

On the past couple of hours, the apparent recovery of Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets’ center, who had tested positive for COVID-19, after having been in contact with the tennis player Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian tested negative, but he is still on his home country, with the trip to North American soil probably coming up soon.

The main favourites for the bookmakers like Bet365 to winning the title are the Los Angeles Lakers (2.75), the Milwaukee Bucks (3.75) and the Los Angeles Clippers (3.75). On the outside, we have the “underdogs” Boston Celtics (13.00), Utah Jazz (14.00) and Houston Rockets (15.00).

Surprisingly, or not, the champions Toronto Raptors are priced at 20.00 to renew the title they’ve conquered with Kawhi Leonard (now at the Clippers) leading them.

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