The NBA is expected to share with teams a draft of the league’s second-half schedule as early as this weekend, or likely next week, sources told ESPN.
The NBA released only the first half of the schedule in order to build in flexibility to make up games postponed due to health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus. Postponements this week involving the Charlotte Hornets and San Antonio Spurs have delayed the schedule release, sources said.
As a result, those teams have more games to make up to reach the league’s 72-game target. The Grizzlies, for instance, will finish the first half of the schedule having played 32 games — leaving 40 to make up. The New York Knicks, as of Friday, will finish the first segment having played 36 games, and the Brooklyn Nets 37 — leaving 36 and 35 games, respectively, for the remainder of the season.
In conversations with teams so far, sources said league officials have expressed a desire for each to play 72 games if possible — even if that requires Washington, Memphis and other teams who have had several games postponed to play more often over the rest of the season. That will require those teams to play more back-to-backs, league officials have informed team executives, sources said.
The league has told teams it will try to avoid back-to-back-to-backs and segments in which a team plays four games in five nights, sources said.
Team officials have asked the league what would happen if more games are postponed in the second half of the schedule — and if the league would attempt to make those games up even with no time cushion built into the back of the schedule, sources said. The league has indicated it will explore ways to make up future postponements, but has acknowledged in talks with league officials that some teams may not reach 72 games played.
That would seem to indicate the league is not contemplating pushing back the postseason and the NBA Finals to accommodate any postponements in the second half of schedule. League officials have said they would prefer to avoid competing with the Olympics in Tokyo, which are scheduled to begin July 21.
The NBA is also working toward resumption of its annual Summer League in Las Vegas sometime in early to mid-August, though specifics are still being ironed out, sources told ESPN.