The NBA is in talks with The Walt Disney Company about restarting its suspended season at Disney World in Florida in late July after it was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the league said on Saturday.
The potential plan would see the league hold games at a single site, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a sprawling athletic complex inside the Orlando resort that has three arenas, hotels and would allow the league to limit outside exposure.
"Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement outlining the plan.
In mid-March, with five weeks remaining in its 82-game schedule, the NBA became the first major North American professional sports league to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Since then a number of other NBA players in the 30-team league have tested positive, including former league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.
The NBA playoffs were originally scheduled to begin on 18 April and conclude in June.
More than half of the league's teams have re-opened their practice facilities this month under strict conditions and only in places where local and state governments have given them the green light.
The news of the Disney World plan comes amid a report of how the league plans to reopen. The Athletic reported that the league sent a survey to every general manager asking their opinions about how to restart the season.
The options, according to the report, were:
1. Restart with the regular season en route to playing between 72 and 76 games total before proceeding to playoffs. GMs were also asked to vote on the number of regular season games to be played. All teams had played between 63 and 67 when the league paused the season.
2. Restart straight to a 16-team, best-of-seven playoff.
3. A "playoff plus" option of adding teams, either through a play-in tournament or replacing the first round with a group stage. GMs were given several options for the number of teams as well as the format.
4. How late in the year the season should go, with the range of options from Labor Day (September 7) as far as 1 November.
The NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to hold a call on 29 May, according to the report.