PHOENIX – After an unprecedented postponement of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Suns are going to be playing basketball again.
The NBA return-to-play plan is expected to be ratified by owners on Thursday. The story was first reported Wednesday by The Athletic’s Shams Charania and later detailed by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The teams will play in Orlando, Florida, which is just fine with Suns center Frank Kaminsky.
“I’ll go to Saturn to play basketball at this point,” he said recently.
The NBA, after much speculation that it would invite 20 teams to the reboot, decided to bring 22 teams to play.
In addition to the 16 teams that were set to make the playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards and the Suns also will be playing.
Every team will play eight regular season games before the postseason. This is meant to give players time to get back in shape and into the groove of an NBA season before playoff games begin.
Not all of Wednesday’s news favored the Suns, however. Initial speculation had the NBA testing a play-in tournament, where some or all of the teams that weren’t in the original 16 would get to compete for a playoff spot.
That’s not how it’s going to go. The only play-in game possible will occur if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind the eighth seed. The eighth seed would have to lose twice to be eliminated, while the ninth seed would only have to lose once.
The Suns are six games behind the eighth seed and would have to jump four teams to make it to the ninth. It’s a difficult task for a team that was 26-39 when the season was suspended in March.
But there is hope. Mikal Bridges said during a news media session that he didn’t care what kind of games the team would play “as long as we can play again.”
Gina Mizell, who covers the Suns for The Athletic, said she believes the Suns wanted to play again, no matter the circumstances.
The Suns believe they could surprise people. The team started the season 7-4 and only had one game all season where their entire 15-man roster was available.
They believe if they can return to where they were at the start of the year, get healthy and receive a standout performance from Devin Booker, who will be playing the most important eight games of his young career, the Suns could be a threat.
And if that doesn’t happen, the players will get an extra eight games to play under a new coaching staff. Mizell said that any time the players would have together would benefit them.
All games will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Players and necessary team members will live on the complex for the duration of the tournament to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Pending the owners vote, NBA play will resume July 31 and conclude Oct. 12 at the latest.