The NBA is on the brink of returning to action, according to multiple media reports. The League’s Board of Governors intends to approve a return-to-play plan on Thursday. It will not include the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Instead, 22 teams — 13 from the Western Conference and nine from the East — will travel to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where they will play eight “regular season” games to determine the eight playoff teams in each conference. At the end of that period, if the eighth- and ninth-place teams in a respective conference are within four games in the standings, they will play one another to determine who gets the final playoff spot.
Teams within six games of a playoff spot in either conference were invited down to Orlando to resume their respective seasons. In the West, only two teams didn’t fit that criteria: Minnesota and Golden State.
It appears the Timberwolves’ season is over, at least in terms of competition. Those returning to action reportedly will train at their local sites in early July, then report to Orlando later in the month for training camps.
There has been little reported in regards to what teams like Minnesota will be permitted to do. The Timberwolves haven’t played a game, or held an organized team activity, since early March. With the late finish to this season, the 2020-21 campaign isn’t likely to begin until sometime around Christmas.
That’s a long time between games. The Timberwolves could use some type of end-of-season training camp next month to continue to integrate the many new members of their roster. Not having the bevy of practices that 22 other teams across the league possess would figure to be a competitive disadvantage for Minnesota heading into next season.
On the bright side for the Timberwolves, the fact that they won’t return to action seems to guarantee their lottery position. Minnesota (19-45) currently possesses the third-worst record in the NBA. The teams with the bottom three records — currently Golden State, Cleveland and Minnesota — all enter the lottery with the best odds for both the No. 1 pick (14 percent) and a top-3 pick (52.1 percent).