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Report: NBA to approve proposal of 22-team return, including Suns

(AP Photo/David Banks)

The NBA’s board of governors will vote and approve a 22-team return plan that commissioner Adam Silver will propose to league owners on Thursday, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

That means the Phoenix Suns are expected to continue their season after the league moved on from considering return plans involving 16 and 30 teams.

Wojnarowski reported that the 22-team plan would allow teams within six games of the playoffs to participate at Disney World in Orlando. At 26-39, the Suns are exactly six games behind the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

In the 22-team plan, an eight-game return of the regular season followed by a potential play-in tournament would lead into the regular 16-team playoff format, Wojnarowski reported.

It appears the Suns would have to be the ninth seed within four games of the eighth-seeded team to make a play-in tournament. The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Wednesday first reported details about the play-in tournament.

The play-in tournament would work as follows, according to sources: If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth.

Charania added that the proposal would schedule the NBA Draft lottery and combine for sometime in August.

Due to the coronavirus that led to the season suspension, Charania added there are proposed health protocols included in Silver’s proposal, including guests not being allowed at games until the playoffs and bench players sitting further apart.

Wojnarowski said Monday that any return plan was expected to “overwhelmingly” pass with a three-fourths favorable vote required. The vote Thursday is expected to take place at 9:30 a.m. Arizona time.

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.

ESPN reported that the NBA hopes to return by July 31 and was aiming for a potential Game 7 of the NBA finals to be played by Oct. 12. The draft and free agency would follow, in order, immediately after the 2019-20 season ends in mid-October.

The NBA season was halted due to the coronavirus on March 11.

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