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NBA set to restart 2019-20 season in Orlando without Atlanta Hawks

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Update: The NBA’s Board of Governors voted to approve the 22-team restart plan with a reported 29-1 margin, with Marc Stein of the New York Times noting the NBA Players Association will discuss the return plan on Friday.

Further information, along with NBA Draft information, can be found here.


After weeks of speculation, word broke on May 23 that the NBA was officially engaged in “exploratory conversations” about restarting the 2019-20 season, with Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida serving as the proposed (and singular) location for the league. The focus then shifted to important details about how the resumption would function, including the open question of whether all 30 NBA teams would be invited to participate in some form or fashion. This week, reporting indicated the overwhelming unlikelihood of a 30-team restart and all signs now point to the Atlanta Hawks, along with a handful of other organizations, being omitted from the NBA’s bubble/campus gathering in Orlando.

Though nothing is official at this juncture, the conviction in the reporting of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is noteworthy. Beyond that, he indicates that the NBA’s Board of Governors has the “intention of approving the league’s plan” on Thursday.

In the days leading up to the final decision, Atlanta’s leadership made it known publicly that the Hawks would like to be invited to Orlando, even without a clear path to playoff contention. Debates will continue on the merits of teams like the Hawks — along with the Warriors, Knicks and others — being included, but Atlanta’s plea centered on being a youthful, developing team that would benefit from additional time on the court and suffer negative effects from being omitted.

With regard to the timeline of the 2020-21 NBA season, much of the available reporting centers on a target start date sometime around Christmas and potentially into January, with the caveat that there is nothing official just yet. If that comes to fruition, the Hawks would be off the floor, at least in terms of a regular season game setting, for more than nine full months as a result of the league’s restart decision.

In the coming days, news will undoubtedly arrive with regard to the 2020 NBA Draft, both from a lottery perspective and for the date of the event itself. In the meantime, the Hawks will move fully into off-season mode, with the reality that the team will not be participating as the entire NBA shifts its focus to Orlando and a sprint to the finish line of the 2019-20 campaign.

Stay tuned.