NBA

Sources: NBA to approve plan for 22-team return

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The NBA’s board of governors has a 12:30 p.m. ET call on Thursday with the intention of approving the league’s plan for a 22-team return in Orlando, Florida, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Each of the 22 teams will play eight regular-season games in Orlando for seeding purposes for the playoffs, sources told ESPN.

Joining the 16 current playoff teams will be the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs in the West and the Washington Wizards in the East, sources told ESPN.

If the No. 9 seed is more than four games behind, the No. 8 seed will make the conference playoffs. If the No. 9 seed is less than four games back, there will be a play-in tournament, sources told ESPN.

The return would begin July 31 under the proposal, and a last possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals would be Oct. 12, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

The expectation is that the NBA draft and the opening of free agency would follow in sequential order in October, sources said.

The NBA board of governors requires a three-fourths passage of the 30 teams on a plan, but there is an expectation among owners that they will fall into line and overwhelmingly approve the commissioner’s recommendation, sources said.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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