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NBA return updates: An earlier start date, increased roster sizes, and more

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The return of the NBA is inching closer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has now reported that the league’s intended start date is slightly earlier, moving forward one day to July 30. This hardly makes any difference, but we have received some other updates over the last day or so that are worth noting.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania has reported that the NBA is planning to increase team roster sizes to 17 players as the season resumes.

This provides a little more flexibility, which will be essential with possible concerns of injuries after months off and different levels of training available, and of course COVID-19.

As Wojnarowski has detailed, teams can bring 17 players to Orlando while playoff rosters will include 15 players. And once the playoffs start, teams can replace any player who tests positive for the coronavirus. Any new players will need to complete a quarantine period for a minimum of seven days.

Free agent players — both those who were on an NBA team this season and those who weren’t — will be eligible to sign into open roster spots. If the Philadelphia 76ers sustain any injuries or find themselves looking for a bit of extra depth, someone like Trey Burke (who was waived in February) could potentially make a return. There will be a one-week transaction period in late June when teams can waive and sign players, and convert players on two-way deals to standard contracts if need be.

Finally, we also have a better idea now of just how long players could expect to be in the NBA’s “bubble” at Orlando’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. 22 teams will be going, and according to Wojnarowski, six teams will be eliminated after 35 to 40 days following the eighth regular season games and a possible play-in tournament for the playoffs. 14 teams will be finished after 53 days. The second-round of the playoffs will keep teams in Orlando for a maximum of 67 days, while the Conference Finals will be finished after a maximum of 82 days. The tentative start date for the Finals is September 30.

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