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Woj: NBA return-to-play plan focused on including Suns, expected to pass

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio (11) drives as Golden State Warriors guard Damion Lee (1) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Phoenix. The Warriors won 115-99. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The NBA is focused on including 22 teams in a return but will spend from now until Thursday to work out finer details of a 2019-20 resumption that could include the Phoenix Suns, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“They’re lining up behind (commissioner) Adam Silver and they’re ready to move toward a plan he, the players’ association … work together on,” Wojnarowski said on Monday’s edition of Get Up. “There’s a lot of focus right now … on a 22-team model of bringing teams back to Orlando in a play-in situation.

“The league is still digging down on details of what that would look like and they’re going to spend this week finalizing the structure, the format of a return-to-play.”

There is still not a certainty Phoenix would be included as the NBA comes back from a coronavirus-caused hiatus. On Friday, ESPN reported that a 20-team plan was still “alive.”

That said, it appears the NBA is still leaning toward allowing teams within six games of the playoffs to participate. At 26-39, the Suns are exactly six games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio are all ahead of Phoenix and behind Memphis in the standings. In the Eastern Conference, only one current non-playoff team, the Washington Wizards, will return to play in the discussed 22-team scenario.

It appears the NBA wants some form of the regular season to tip off a return so teams have time to shake off rust before entering into a true postseason, regardless of the number of teams involved or the format. In the 22-team plan, it is expected a brief return of the regular season followed by a play-in tournament would lead into the playoffs.

Wojnarowski added that a final plan is expected to “overwhelmingly pass.” The league needs a three-fourths majority of owners to approve the plan, and that is expected to be voted upon Thursday.

The NBA season was halted March 11.

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