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NBA ratifies 22-team format, clearer timeline emerges on return to play

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The Boston Celtics will have to gear up to finish the 2019-20 season.

Boston Celtics v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are going to Disney World.

On Thursday, the NBA Board of Governors ratified the proposed 22-team format to restart the season as the NBA readies to return to game action at the centralized Disney location starting tentatively on July 31.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania provided other timeline details, not only how some aspects of the restart will shake out, but also how the 2020-21 season will be impacted by the change in schedule.

Charania, citing sources, said beginning on June 15 players located internationally will need to return to their team’s market city and all players will report by June 21 with coronavirus testing starting the following day.

According to Charania, training camp will begin on June 30 and on July 7, teams will begin traveling to Orlando. With Oct. 12 as an end date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, free agency would start on Oct. 18 and training camp for the 2020-21 season would start up on Nov. 10 with the NBA shooting for Dec. 1 as opening night to next season. Charania added that all dates are tentative and could be moved around.

With the NBA now just over a month away from reconvening, there are still some hurdles to overcome and NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that safety of the players is of the upmost concern when getting back on the court.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” said Silver in a statement. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

The C’s schedule won’t start where it left off once plays resumes. With only a select amount of teams invited to Orlando, the Celtics won’t have an easy slate as AP NBA staff writer Tim Reynolds looked at possible matchups for the Celtics, which would included facing the Milwaukee Bucks — the team the Celtics were supposed to face next before the NBA was shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic — along with the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, who might have Kyrie Irving back by this point.

Regardless of who the Celtics face, at least there will be basketball to be played.