To minimize health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cavaliers will not be included in a 22-team restart plan the NBA will submit to the Board of Governors today, according to multiple reports.
The format to resume was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN in advance of today’s 12:30 p.m. video conference. Three-fourths of the owners are required for approval and the plan is expected to pass, Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY reported.
The plan, once approved, would have 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams going to Disney, and the cutoff being that teams must be within six games of a playoff spot at this point. Playoffs would start in August, and the NBA Finals will likely stretch into October, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics already have clinched playoff spots — and, if only eight games are left, that would mean the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets would theoretically have clinched spots as well.
The Dallas Mavericks would be virtually assured of clinching a West spot, holding a seven-game lead over eighth-place Memphis. That would mean the Grizzlies, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix all would be in the running for the No. 8 seed out West. In the East, Washington is six games behind No. 7 Brooklyn and 5 1/2 games behind No. 8 Orlando — so within range of triggering a play-in series.
The Cavs compiled a 5-6 record under coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who took over after John Beilein stepped down, but they own the second-worst record in the league (19-46).
Bickerstaff and several Cavs, including Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and Collin Sexton, have said during the pandemic they hoped their season wasn’t over.
“With our guys in particular, any minute that we can get working with each other is beneficial to us,” Bickerstaff said on May 6. “Eleven games, it’s not enough. We know we were heading in the right direction.”
According to ESPN, play will begin July 31, with Oct. 12 the last date for a possible Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
The Athletic reported that the draft lottery and combine will be held in August. The Cavs can select no lower than sixth and have a 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick.
The league suspended play March 11 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus; teammate Donovan Mitchell tested positive hours later.
According to Charania, the NBA is still debating several proposals to maintain social distancing, including not allowing players to shower at the arena, having them spread out in rows on the bench and prohibiting guests until the playoffs.