As the NHL on Tuesday announced its plan to scrap the regular season and delve right into a 24-team postseason, the NBA hasn’t gotten as far with its comeback in regards to return-to-play formats.
The league surveyed its GMs to get a feel for how each team feels, but some players are taking it upon themselves to publicly voice their opinions too.
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, for example, has made it known that if the NBA doesn’t return with a structure that gives his team a shot at the playoffs, he won’t participate.
“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team,” Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday. “But I’m not going to be participating. I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that in there.”
It makes sense that he wouldn’t want to risk injury, or the chance of getting sick, for meaningless basketball.
The Blazers currently sit at No. 9 in the Western Conference, 3.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot currently inhabited by the Memphis Grizzlies.
“If we come back and I don’t have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I’ll be at practice and I’ll be with my team. I’m going to do all that and then I’m going to be sitting right on that bench during the games,” Lillard said. “If they come back and say it’s something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we’re playing for playoff spots, then I think that’s perfect.”
There is no return format that will please everyone while still putting safety concerns at highest priority, but until it nails those logistics down, no other big decisions can really be made.
We’ll see what the league comes up with.