Regular seasons will always mean something – even the one that will resume in the NBA on July 30.
No, doing well in it won’t get you a home-court advantage in the playoffs. In the so-called “bubble” in Orlando, it’ll be a level playing field for all teams. Neutral sites with no fans mean no momentum-swinging electricity in a building.
But when the league reconvenes for eight games to finish sorting out the playoff order, it’s still important. Would you rather play the Lakers or Clippers as the No. 7 or 8 seed? Or work to move up to sixth if you can and get perhaps Denver, Utah or Houston?
You get the point.
NBA teams are reconvening in their respective home markets and players, most of them, anyway, are gearing up to go to Orlando after the Fourth of July weekend for what could be more than a 90-day grind for those teams lucky enough to reach the NBA finals.
Numerous players around the league already have opted out, or are expected to do so. Among them are Portland’s Trevor Ariza, the Lakers’ Avery Bradley, Washington’s Davis Bertans and free agent DeMarcus Cousins, who apparently was getting interest from some teams.
Several reports on Thursday indicated that the Mavericks’ Willie Cauley-Stein, who is expecting the birth of a child in July, will opt out of the bubble, too. That would open up a spot for a new player, perhaps Trey Burke, who spent part of 2018-19 with the Mavericks.
They are running low on guard depth with Jalen Brunson and Courtney Lee injured.
That will sort itself out in time. New players cannot sign officially until July 1.
In the meantime, here’s a timeline that will serve as a primer for Maverick fans on what to expect – and when – as the Mavs and the rest of the league gear up for the 2019-20 season, Part II.
July 1: Teams can officially sign players if they have roster spots to fill because they have lost players who elect not to be part of the NBA restart. This also is the date that teams can begin full-squad workouts at their own facilities, pursuant to local protocols in effect. Teams are hopeful that they will have a playing schedule for the resumption of the season by then.
July 7-9: Most of the 22 teams completing the season will arrive in Orlando and enter the “bubble” in staggered fashion. Training camps will begin. The defending champion Toronto Raptors could be allowed to train in Florida before other teams, since numerous players on their roster are already in the U.S. and going to Canada would require a quarantine period. It is not known if there will be scrimmages between teams during the training camp. Those would be the equivalent of exhibition games.
July 30: The eight-game finish to the 2019-20 regular season will begin at three different venues on the Disney campus.
Aug. 15-16: With the regular season finished, teams in eighth and ninth position in each conference (if separated by four games or fewer) will have a play-in tournament to see who survives as the No. 8 seed. The ninth-place team would have to win two games in a row. The eighth-place team would need only one win.
Aug. 17: The 16-team playoff begins with the first round (No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, etc., in each conference). Best-of-seven format will be used, with no reseeding after each round.
Sept. 30: The NBA finals are scheduled to begin.
Oct. 13: Latest date for a Game 7 in the finals.
Oct. 16: NBA draft. As of now, the Mavericks have their first-round pick, which likely would be in the high teens or low 20s.
Oct. 18: Free agency begins.
December: Likely start of the 2020-21 season.