The NBA season is on its way to completion as soon as it tips off on July 31, and the league is already looking forward to the next steps it needs to take.
The doubleheader on July 31 will mark the start of the restarted NBA season. It will be highlighted by a showdown between the Pelicans and the Jazz. The Lakers and Clippers matchup will follow it right after. While the bubble is busy with the games rolling, the league executives are already thinking of what to do for next season.
There seems to be no end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic. Until a vaccine is produced for the masses, major public gatherings will still be prohibited. As such, the league is already thinking of creative ways to make the 2020-2021 NBA season possible.
Next NBA season in regional pods?
As it stands, the eight teams outside the NBA bubble are facing challenges for their version of the bubble. It seems like the protocols that should be in place for them aren’t being focused on. As a result, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts said that if the protocols are not as stringent as the current bubble, there will be nothing to talk about.
Rumors around the league are that the next NBA season will be held in regional pods. In other words, travels to and from cities will be limited. Instead, clusters of teams will stay in a city to play games with each other for a certain period. After their schedule, they get to go home and stay with their families. After another interval, a different cluster will be formed in another city. They’ll continue doing this until they complete 81 games of the regular season.
Similar to the protocol in the bubble, players will have to undergo strict testing. It is to ensure that the clusters remain COVID-19 free.
NBA’s priority remains to get fans into arenas next season. Regional pods for extended periods are among brainstorms, but preference would be that those are finite in length, sources said. For example: A month or two inside, a month out. Early in planning; everything's on table. https://t.co/fkuSyy1TwG
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2020
Early planning stages
Since the NBA is five months away from the start of the next season, it still has time to plan. As such, all ideas on the table could be a possible regular-season plan. However, the regional pods idea seems to be the most viable one now.
If the NBA successfully pulls off another bubble for the eight teams outside the bubble, they could push for the pods idea. If not, and the current bubble is infected, next season could altogether be canceled. The NBA commissioner himself said that the health and safety of the players, staff, and fans are the primordial concern.
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