The NBA is back.
The NBA announced its plan to resume the 2019-20 season on Thursday with 22 teams invited to Orlando to compete for the playoffs. The other eight teams will not participate. If the NBPA agrees to the plan — and there are no indications that it won’t — league play will resume play on July 31 after 29 of 30 teams approved commissioner Adam Silver’s plan.
The one team that didn’t? The Portland Trail Blazers.
Why? The Trail Blazers preferred a plan that included 20 teams instead of 22, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
McCollum praises Portland ownership
Portland guard CJ McCollum then responded to the news and applauded Trail Blazers ownership for following the players’ lead in voting.
We play for an ownership group that actually listens to its players and has a backbone. We voiced what we felt was the best option and they followed our lead. I commend our front office and Jody Allen. https://t.co/mAj5EzeiUh— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) June 4, 2020
McCollum’s comment confirms a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the “Blazers are eager to resume the season” but voted “no” after considering “feedback from its players.”
The teams invited to participate in the remaining regular season are either already in playoff position or six games out of a playoff spot with eight games left on the revised schedule. The six teams on the outside looking in that will participate in the remainder of the regular season are the Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards.
Note that five of those six teams are in the Western Conference. It’s going to be a dog fight in the West with six teams competing for the final playoff spot that the Memphis Grizzlies now maintain. Memphis sits 3.5 games ahead of the Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings, who are tied in the standings in ninth place.
Blazers wanted less competition?
The NBA’s plan left open the possibility of a play-in series between the eighth and ninth seeds if the teams finish the shortened regular season within four games of each other.
Competition will be fierce for that positioning, and it’s clear that Portland players simply preferred eliminating the Suns and the Spurs from the start. The Spurs sit a half game behind the logjam in ninth place while the Suns are 1.5 games back.
Regardless, the plan should quell any concern that Damian Lillard might decide not play — at least as long as Portland is still alive. The Trail Blazers guard told Haynes last week that he would sit if Portland didn’t have “a true opportunity to get into the playoffs.”
Every team invited to Orlando has a fighting chance.
More from Yahoo Sports: