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Grizzlies president Jason Wexler "comfortable" with NBA's return-to-play plan

Wexler tells Local 24 it is a"fantastic feeling" knowing the NBA season is set to resume July 31
Credit: AP
Grizzlies guard Josh Jackson (20) gets a high-five from guard Dillon Brooks (24) March 10, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies are going to Disney World.

The NBA board of governors voted Thursday to approve a 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season, beginning July 31 in Orlando, FL.

The plan, which passed 29-1 with the Portland Trail Blazers as the only team to vote no, includes 13 Western Conference teams and 9 Eastern Conference teams. The remaining teams will play eight regular season games to determine seeding before a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

A play-in tournament would only take place between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds if the ninth seed finishes within four games of the eighth. In that event, the No. 9 seed would have to beat the No. 8 seed twice, while the eighth seed would only need to win once. 

The Grizzlies held a 3.5 game lead for the eighth seed in the Western Conference before the COVID-19 stoppage.

"The NBA had a lot to factor and balance in coming up with a return-to-play plan," Grizzlies team president Jason Wexler told Local 24. "Ultimately in the analysis of everything they did to try to pull this together, it clearly gave some weighting to the performance of our team and all of the teams through the first 80 percent of the season, and given that it was given due consideration, we were comfortable with the plan that they put forward to return to play." 

The majority of the Grizzlies players are in Memphis, according to Wexler. Players will reportedly be expected to report to their teams by June 21, with training in Orlando slated to start July 9-11.

The league is also planning to have daily coronavirus testing at the Walt Disney World complex, according to ESPN.

"The NBA has worked really hard to develop a lot of expertise and done a ton of work in trying to create as safe of a campus environment as they reasonably can given the circumstances," Wexler said. "I think there is a lot of faith and reliance in the hard work and processes of the NBA to create a return-to-play environment where people feel as comfortable as they can. 

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The delicate experiment of reintroducing professional sports cautiously moves forward. There are setbacks that could occur. Some details still need to be hammered out and approved--but for now, there is victory in a concrete return date for basketball. 

"It's really exciting to have a date on the calendar where you're going to be playing basketball again," he said. "There hasn't been a time in my recollection where you literally didn't know where your next game was going to be. Now that we know July 31st we're playing basketball again, that's a fantastic feeling."