The NG

It’s as if we’re stuck in the midst of the 2019-20-21 season. 

The Basketball Hall of Fame’s celebration of its Class of 2020 initially was scheduled for late August, then moved to mid-October, with the plan now for next spring, months before the expected induction of the Class of 2021 in Springfield, Mass. 

The Boston Marathon originally was scheduled for April 20, pushed back to September, then canceled. 

The Belmont Stakes will now be run before the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for Sept. 5, to be followed by the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes, in a Triple Crown as out of order as these sporting times, themselves. 

It all, of course, is a matter of safety and common sense, a sports schedule constantly being remastered amid the new coronavirus pandemic. 

Which brings us to the Heat and the NBA and the (somewhat) emerging clarity on what could come next. 

In the wake of Friday’s NBA Board of Governors meeting, the targeted date for the league’s return appears to be July 31. Also, according to the results of the survey issued to general managers, the strongest response was to make sure play is completed by Oct. 1. 

That, in turn, would barely leave two months to complete the NBA draft, free agency and summer-league-in-the-fall before opening training camps in advance of the hoped-for Christmas Day start to 2020-21. 

At some point, the seasons run into each other. 

You start, of course, with the loudest unsaid element of the NBA equation: Playing out 2019-20 to a championship conclusion in the absence of fans is all about the television dollars, an ESPN version of The Truman Show, if you will. 

It is far less about crowing a champion then recouping revenue. 

But at what cost? 

As has been chronicled by ESPN, the minimum timeframe for running a typical 16-team playoff that includes four rounds of best-of-seven series would be 55 days. That would mean getting to such a postseason by Aug. 8, if Oct. 1 is the cutoff point. That doesn’t leave much in the way of regular-season wiggle room if July 31, indeed, proves to be the resumption of play. 

Understand, also, in that poll of general managers, as reported by ESPN, a third of the league’s general managers viewed Sept. 15 or earlier at the preferred conclusion for 2019-20. 

As with thoroughbred racing’s 2020 Triple Crown, the 2019-20 NBA season has been undeniably altered. 

But what is at stake transcends the revenue and the integrity of 2019-20. The NBA, even with a different, reduced revenue model, still can be the NBA. It was before. Need be, it can be again. 

But create an offseason where players are forced into hasty contract-option decisions, re-open free agency to tampering the very year the league office had planned to crack down, rush players back from a rush to completion of ‘19-20, and 2020-21 could become a season with its own asteri ...

OK, no need to go there, yet. 

But what also has to be part of the equation in this time of uncertainty is the type of visionary approach that has helped separate Adam Silver’s NBA from other sports. 

If Dec. 25 is to be the start of a 2020-21 season that runs the full 82 regular-season games plus playoffs, then when happens going forward with the regional-sports networks that also carry full schedules of Major League Baseball, in the case of the Heat and South Florida, with Fox Sports Florida (Marlins) and Fox Sports Sun (Rays).