Ever since the NBA season was suspended two months ago, the consensus within the NBA was that a return to the 2019-20 season would have to be done in an isolated environment. The term “bubble city” has been thrown around, a location where all NBA players and staff can reside to only come in contact with one another while finishing the rest of the 2019-20 season, albeit without fans. Las Vegas was mentioned early on, due to its basketball infrastructure from many camps throughout the years, as well as the NBA’s Summer League which happens there every year. However, a few weeks ago it was reported that Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando was being considered, as the theme park has a similar infrastructure of basketball courts as Las Vegas.
It is now being reported by Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic that not only is Orlando being considered, but it is also now the frontrunner to host the 2019-20 season if it were to resume.
The NBA has Orlando/Disney World as a clear frontrunner for return-to-play site for resuming 2019-20 season, sources tell me and @sam_amick. Orlando has gained significant seriousness among other cites such as Las Vegas.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2020
To add to the report, Keith Smith (previously of Yahoo Sports) adds the following that is reportedly from someone within Disney:
Sources from Walt Disney World tell me: "We are confident we'll be hosting the NBA in some fashion. It may not be the entire league, but we believe the NBA will be here to at least finish part of their season. Still hurdles to cross, but we are preparing as if that is the case."
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 20, 2020
To be clear, this does not mean that the NBA is anywhere closer than where it previously was to return to play. There’s still plenty of hurdles to get over to return, as well as plenty of logistics that need to be worked out in regards to playing safely within the confines of Walt Disney World Resort. However, reading in between the lines, the fact that this has been leaked to two high members of the press should be looked at as a positive sign of return. The NBA is at least continuing down the path of some plan. Now, it remains to be seen if trends regarding the coronavirus will improve, allowing the NBA to even do this. Many other national health aspects will have to improve for the NBA to even come close.
We’ll see how the next few weeks go, as it was also reported that Adam Silver stated a decision regarding the season could be made in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.