The Los Angeles Lakers (and the rest of the NBA) are officially coming back. The league’s board of governors officially voted to approve commissioner Adam Silver’s proposal to resume the season with 22 teams on July 31 at Disney World in Orlando Florida, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The NBA confirmed the news shortly after Wojnarowski’s report. It’s official. The NBA is on its way back.
But who was the one team to vote against the proposal? The Portland Trail Blazers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Sources: Portland was the lone team that voted against the 22-team format. https://t.co/WxxADXEkNb— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 4, 2020
Portland’s hilariously resounding defeat here aside, this is great news for fans of the Lakers, who will now officially get to see the purple and gold resume their chase for their 17th title.
How will it work? The Lakers (and the other 21 teams heading to Orlando) will stay at the Disney World Resorts in a “bubble” of sorts, and play eight regular season games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the parks. The games will be the Lakers’ next eight on the schedule, excepting the teams that are not going to Orlando, meaning they will likely play:
- Houston Rockets
- Denver Nuggets
- Utah Jazz
- Utah Jazz
- Toronto Raptors
- Washington Wizards*
- Indiana Pacers
- Sacramento Kings*
However, as our own Christian Rivas pointed out in his writeup, that reported schedule comes with some complications, so it may not be exact:
There are a few things that should be noted before we continue. The first is that the games against the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings are subject to change because their games against the Lakers are later on their schedule, so without changes, the Wizards and Kings would play more than eight games. That’s unlikely to happen.
So we’ll see who the Lakers ultimately play, but it likely won’t matter too much. Even with a little rust, they only have to win three of their final eight games to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Should they do that, they will play the eighth seed in the first round of the playoffs, which could be decided by a semi-complicated play-in tournament that my friend Hector Diaz explains in more depth here.
What exact health and safety protocols the NBA is going to put in place, months after it halted its season due to the threat of coronavirus, remain to be seen, and the players’ union still has to approve this. But provided the league can do this safely and get everyone to green-light it (big ifs!), this is great news for all basketball fans, but especially the Lakers faithful. Chances to win a championship are rare, and LeBron James is getting older. With this plan, at least the Lakers will get a shot to finish what they started during arguably the most difficult season any NBA team has ever faced. That’s all they can ask for at this point.
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know I’m excited to see them try, and that so far this group has made everyone who doubted them regret it. Now they just need to do it one more time.