NBPA approves 22-team format to finish season

National Basketball Players Association representatives approved the NBA’s 22-team format to complete the 2019-2020 season, the NBPA announced Friday.

The NBA and NBPA will work through a number of details in the next week on the season’s resumption at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, but sides are ready to move together toward the July 31 tip, sources told ESPN.

The NBPA player leadership was informed of a plan to keep 1,600 people in the Orlando bubble at any given time, sources said. Players’ families, likely three members at a time, would be allowed to join players in Orlando after the first-round of the playoffs.

In a statement, the NBPA said: “The Board of Player Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has approved further negotiations with the NBA on a 22-team return to play scenario to restart the 2019-20 NBA season. Various details remain to be negotiated and the acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”

As expected after the NBA plan’s approval, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts informed the union’s members that the starting dates for the 2020-21 season — along with a myriad of items — will be part of the negotiations with the NBA in coming weeks, sources told ESPN.

Changes to the league calendar would be among the many items that have to be collectively bargained with the NBPA.

Starting the season in early December would allow many NBA players to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and would avoid the back end of the NBA playoffs, draft and free agency fighting for attention with the start of the 2021 NFL season.

The NBA and NBPA recently reached an agreement to extend until September the original 60-day window that preserves the league’s right to terminate the collective bargaining agreement in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, sources told ESPN.

The extension prolongs the NBA’s ability to trigger the nuclear option to its economic crisis — terminating the CBA under the force majeure event provision — which it could have done within two months of the March 11 shutdown of the league.

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