Report: NBA rosters expanding to 17 for Disney World return

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NBA teams will be permitted to carry 17 players on their rosters once the season resumes at Disney World in July, according to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania. Previous estimates had roster sizes limited to 15 players per team.

Per Charania, players who have signed an NBA or G League deal this year or a previous year are expected to be eligible to sign once the season restarts. This means the likes of JR Smith or Jamal Crawford could be added to a roster.

The league is reportedly targeting a July 30 return in Orlando. Some NBA players have since voiced their concerns about the season resuming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the current return-to-play plan, 22 teams would arrive at Disney around July 7 and play an eight-game slate of matchups later in the month at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex. All teams will stay, practise and play at Disney.

The eight-game slate — it’s unclear if they will be classified as regular-season games — will help determine playoff seeding. From there, the league could have a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference post-season fields. The NBA Finals would reportedly stretch into October.

The 22-team plan includes all teams that were holding playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a berth.

The Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors had already clinched playoff berths. Now with only eight games remaining for each team, it means that eight other clubs — the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets — have post-season spots secured, and the Dallas Mavericks virtually have one as well.

That leaves nine teams vying for three remaining playoff berths. In the East, the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards are in the race for two spots. In the West, the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns will jostle for one spot.

If the gap between eighth place and ninth place in either conference is four games or less when the eight-game slate ends, those teams will play off for the No. 8 seed. The team in ninth place would have to go 2-0 in a two-game series to advance.

With files from The Associated Press