The 2019-20 NBA season has now been suspended for seven weeks. The Association was set to be in the midst of the playoffs at this point when it decided to suspend operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have absolutely no idea when (or if) the season is going to continue. What we do know is that it’s not necessarily close to returning.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps, widespread testing needs to be available to the masses before the NBA can even think about returning. The league estimates it needs 15,000 tests. It’s also not willing to face backlash by testing in that capacity when it’s not available to the general public.
“There needs to be a fast, simple and reliable test. There also must be enough available public testing to avoid backlash toward the NBA for acquiring and using kits,” the report read. “The league expects it will need approximately 15,000 tests, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Teams were sent a memo Thursday night advising not to arrange coronavirus tests for asymptomatic players and staff.”
The NBA is said to be working with academic centers and disease specialists to find a way to produce widespread testing. It’s just not at that point right now. The league has been attempting to find a way to produce rapid testing. Again, that has not gone too far.
As of May 1, only 6.2 million Americans have been tested for the virus. That number must increase significantly before sports can think about returning.
As it relates to the NBA, a recent report suggests that starting up the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando could be an option. Though, that’s just a preliminary thought right now.