NBA targeting October finish for virus-hit season

Adam Silver. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

NBA targeting October finish for virus-hit season

  • The NBA and NBA Players Association are still finalizing the details of the resumption of the season

LOS ANGELES: The NBA is aiming to complete the 2020 season by mid-October, reports said Tuesday, as the league edges toward a return from the coronavirus shutdown.

ESPN reported that according to a time frame due to be voted on by NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday, Game 7 of the NBA Finals would take place no later than Oct. 12.

The NBA and NBA Players Association are still finalizing the details of the resumption of the season, which was halted on March 11 as the coronavirus pandemic erupted.

ESPN reported that the league is planning a 22-team format for its return to play on July 31.

All games are expected to be within the confines of Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando Florida, with all teams remaining on site to minimize risk of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The NBA’s proposal to be put before the board on Thursday requires support from three quarters of the league’s 30 teams in order to be approved.

ESPN reported there was overwhelming support for the plan being recommended by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

One of the key issues to be settled is the format of the competition which will determine the final lineup for the 16-team playoffs.

Six teams currently just outside the playoff places will be included in the 22-team field and given the opportunity to claim a playoff berth.

If approved, the format will bring an abrupt end to the season for eight teams languishing outside the top 22.

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said Tuesday exclusion from the restarted season would hurt his young team.

“The biggest thing we can benefit from is playing basketball,” Pierce said. “If the season is going to resume and we are not a part of it, it hurts our growth, it hurts our product, it hurts our ability to continue the momentum that we need going to next season.

“I play young guys, I have young guys — we need to play basketball.”

The restart is expected to include a two-week quarantine for players in their home cities, one to two weeks of workouts at team facilities followed by two-week training camps.

The regular season was halted abruptly after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive. Gobert, of France, was given the all-clear about two weeks later.

So far, less than a dozen NBA players have been confirmed as testing positive for the coronavirus although not all have been identified.


‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

Updated 33 min 17 sec ago

‘I couldn’t see where I was going,’ says Lewis Hamilton after Austria rain masterclass

  • After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best

SPIELBERG, Austria: Lewis Hamilton said he survived some “heart in the mouth” moments on Saturday as he claimed a spectacular pole position in treacherous rain-swept conditions for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix.
After a disappointing practice day on Friday, the six-time world champion bounced back to his best as he outpaced nearest rival Max Verstappen of Red Bull by more than 1.2 seconds.
His dramatic demonstration of supreme skill and speed on a wet track at the Red Bull Ring increased his record total of pole positions to 89.
“Honestly, I am pleased with that,” he said.
“What a tricky day! The weather is obviously incredibly difficult out there for all of us and, a lot of the time, you cannot actually see where you are going.
“I had one big moment, on the lap before last, when I had a big aquaplane.
“I had my heart in my mouth, but I was able to improve on the last lap, nice and clean. I love these days.”
The 35-year-old Briton had struggled with set-up issues on his Mercedes in Friday’s practice sessions, but said the team had resolved them and he was confident about Sunday’s race, whatever the conditions.
“Yesterday was a difficult day,” said Hamilton.
“It started off well in FP1 and then in FP2 there was a big issue for us, but we discovered it overnight — nothing major.
“I think today would have been better for us if it had been dry, but I am grateful for the rain, like always! I love these kind of conditions.
“Tomorrow looks like a much sunnier day, but we are prepared for both conditions and that’s where I want to start.
“So, I am glad it was a trouble-free session with no mistakes. That’s always a positive.”
Hamilton’s performance enabled him to prove also that his form has not been affected by his passionate support for the global Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-racism efforts launched in Formula One.
“I don’t feel like I need to refocus,” he said this week after finishing fifth in last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on the same circuit, won by his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
“My race was pretty strong. I need to do a better job, but I wouldn’t say I was distracted. I am focused on both — trying to fight and win this championship, but also fighting for equal rights.”
On Thursday, he said he was hoping to be able to take the knee again — as he and 13 other drivers did before last Sunday’s race — and was seeking a way to make this possible.
“If I can find a way of making sure it doesn’t get in the way of us doing our job, then I will,” he said.