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NBA is finalizing plan to return but Pistons won’t be invited to participate

The season is over and the NBA Draft likely won’t occur until October under plan to be voted on Thursday

NBA: Utah Jazz at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons season will officially be over once the NBA board of governors approves a plan Thursday expected to call for the return of a 22-team field with a play-in tournament for the playoffs, according to reports.

The teams would be invited to Orlando with intense safety and quarantine procedures for players, coaches, staff and families. Each of the 22 teams would play eight regular-season games with the 16 playoff teams joined by the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards. Each team is within six games of the eighth seed in each conference.

The play-in tournament would invite the No. 9 seed to play the No. 8 seed if the former is less than four games behind the latter in the standings by the conclusion of the regular season.

Games would return July 31 with the season ending no later than Oct. 12. Free agency and the NBA Draft would then be pushed beyond Oct. 12.

The vote is expected to pass with at least three-fourths of teams approving during a 12:30 p.m. call Thursday.

There is no word on how much this timeline would delay the start of the 2020-21 season, but earlier reports suggested the league is preparing for a shortened season that could begin in January.

That means the Pistons will be one of just eight teams with nothing to do between today and October except endlessly scout college players and think about all the ways they won’t be spending money in free agency. Exciting.

It’ll be good to have basketball back, though, and I’m glad the league is not forcing teams with nothing to play for, including the Pistons, to get involved in the abbreviated schedule with a host of public health considerations.