While there are more important things going on in the world right now, there was some major sports news this week.
It still needs to be approved by the player’s association, but the NBA announced their plan for resuming the season following the months-long suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the NBA season tentatively set to return on July 31st, let’s take a look at what Tar Heels will be involved.
The plan consists of 22 of the 30 teams returning to play out a portion of the remaining regular season games and the playoffs at one sight at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The 22-team cutoff consists of the 16 current playoff teams and six further teams that are within six games of the eighth seed. That breaks down to nine Eastern Conference teams and 13 from the Western Conference. There are some complicated procedures that may be used to decide the final playoff spots at the conclusion of the regular season, but that’s basically what you need to know.
It’s unclear from the initial announcements what any potential roster limits would be, but there are nine former UNC players across eight different teams that would be involved with this plan.
Five of those Tar Heels are on teams that are either definitely in or basically in. Following a midseason signing, Marvin Williams is on the Bucks, who currently sit atop everyone with the league’s best record. Meanwhile, Danny Green and the Lakers currently lead the way in the Western Conference. As far as the others go in this group, there’s Ed Davis and Tony Bradley on the Jazz and Justin Jackson on the Mavericks.
Theo Pinson’s Nets are almost definitely in, but are still within the range of games where they could still technically miss the playoffs.
The last three are all on Western Conference teams that still need work to do. Nassir Little’s Blazers are currently in ninth place, three games back of the eighth seed, while Harrison Barnes and the Kings are four games back. The last Heel expected to be part of that is Cameron Johnson, as his Suns team just barely squeaked into the cutoff point at exactly six games back of the eighth seed.
The plan calls for eight more regular season games to be played to decide seedings, so those Western Conference teams will need to do some work. The Suns especially would need a miracle. As mentioned, there is some sort of complicated play-in tournament thing if a ninth place team can get within a certain amount of games back of a playoff spot. I was very confused attempting to parse everything out with that.
One player whose team did not make the cut was Vince Carter and the Atlanta Hawks. That sadly means Carter’s long career has come to an end.
As mentioned, the plan would be for games to start towards the end of July, so there’s still plenty of time for things to be upended in this plan. However, if everything does work out with it, there will be plenty of Tar Heels for you to keep an eye on when basketball resumes.