NBA confirms ‘exploratory' talks about resuming season at Disney World

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If the Warriors and Kings play again during the 2019-20 NBA season, they might have to pack some mouse ears.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass told reporters in a statement Saturday that the league and the NBA Players Association are in "exploratory conversations" with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the season "in late July" at the Disney-owned ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex just outside of Orlando, Fla. The league initially suspended its season in March after Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bass said in a statement that the complex is being considered as "the single site for an NBA campus." Yahoo Sports' Keith Smith noted in a column last month that the Wide World of Sports can hold at least 12 basketball courts in broadcast-ready facilities, and that the Walt Disney World Resort contains nearly 5,000 hotel rooms in two hotels "just down the road." Disney owns ESPN, and the company has a multibillion-dollar broadcasting rights deal with the NBA through 2025.

It remains to be seen if the Warriors and Kings would be part of any such plan.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Saturday, citing sources, that the NBA sent a survey to all 30 general managers about options to restart the season. Among the formats under consideration were heading straight to the playoffs based on the March 12 standings, expanding the postseason with a play-in tournament or a group stage replacing the playoffs' first round and restarting the regular season with all 30 teams.

Golden State was eliminated from playoff contention on March 10, after the Warriors lost what would be their last game before the shutdown. The survey, according to Charania, asked GMs if they preferred a 72- or 76-game regular season.

That would mean the Warriors, who are 15-50 this season, could play as few as seven games or as many as 11 if the regular season continues. Coach Steve Kerr said last month he's operating under the assumption Golden State's season is over, but general manager Bob Myers said the Warriors would be "good partners" if the league brought each of its teams back. 

The Kings (28-36), who were 3.5 games back of eighth place in the Western Conference when the season was suspended, would be affected by a possible play-in format. Charania reported that the "playoffs plus" options include a play-in tournament for teams on the bubble of the eighth seed in each conference, a play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth seeds and a round-robin group stage in which the top two teams from four groups would advance to what normally is the second round of the playoffs.

As few as 18 teams and as many as 24 are among the "playoffs plus" options listed in the survey, according to Charania. The Kings would be eligible for a 22- or 24-team format, regardless of if the NBA re-seeds or holds the playoffs based on conferences. Sacramento is 11th in the Western Conference and 20th in the NBA.

Charania reported that Labor Day, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, Oct. 15 and Nov. 1 were listed as survey options for the last possible date to finish the season. KRON-TV's Jason Dumas reported Friday night, citing a source, that the NBA was considering a schedule with The Finals ending on Sept. 20.

The NBA's Board of Governors will hold a call next Friday, according to Charania, and they'll have a lot to consider at that time.

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