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AP file photo by David Banks / NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the league must be willing to consider alternatives to a normal schedule for completing the regular season and holding the playoffs if it means resuming basketball games.

Something is finally clear in the uncertain NBA: Players believe they're going to have games again this season.

The obvious questions — How? Where? When? — remain unanswered. Testing, part of the new normal of this coronavirus era, will be a major component to any return-to-play plan that the NBA comes up with. The Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, makes so much sense as a central location for such an endeavor, given its massive size, multiple courts and ties to league broadcast partner ESPN.

The sooner games begin, the sooner the process of figuring out the 2020-21 season can start as well.

Several people familiar with the details of the conversations told The Associated Press this week that players around the league are being urged to start getting mentally and physically ready for training camps that could be just a few weeks away. It might not be a unanimously approved notion, but 2 1/2 months into this pandemic-caused shutdown, the NBA finally seems on the cusp of being able to move forward.

"I have faith in Adam Silver and the NBA, and the NBA teams they're not going to have us come back if it's even a question of us getting hurt," Jared Dudley of the Los Angeles Lakers said this week. "And that's where the testing, being clean, and doing everything that I feel that they'll do to keep us safe (makes a difference)."

Pick a scenario for the return-to-play plan, and someone has surely heard it already. Bringing back all 30 teams and resuming the regular season is an option. So is bringing back, say, 20 teams and having an expanded playoff of sorts, a notion that essentially mirrors what the NHL is talking about these days. A condensed playoff has also been discussed.

Silver, who has had to deal with a series of turbulent crises, from the strained China relationship in the preseason to the deaths of David Stern and Kobe Bryant in January and now a pandemic that will almost certainly affect the league's financial health for the next several years — is listening to any and all ideas.

"The direction that the league office has received from our teams is, again, all rules are off at this point given the situation we find ourselves in, that the country is in," Silver said last month. "If there is an opportunity to resume play, even if it looks different than what we've done historically, we should be modeling it."

The calendar dictates those decisions are going to come soon, backed up by the fact that Silver told players two weeks ago that he wants to be able to bring forward a return-to-play plan in "two to four weeks." The window is about to open if that holds true.

"I'm really excited about the possibility of coming back," Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said in remarks shared via the NBA's Twitter channel this week. "I think there's so much good that can come from it. People need that escape, and as athletes, too, we want to get back to what we love most."

It's going to be different. Fans won't be at games, barring some seismic shift in thinking. Home-court advantage won't exist because games will almost certainly all be at neutral sites. Even the Orlando Magic won't have the home-court edge; they might be able to use their own homes if the NBA comes to central Florida, but the games will not be in their arena.

Someone is probably going to test positive when play resumes. If that happens, he'll almost certainly have to sit out a minimum of two weeks. If a playoff series is held on an every-other-day basis, that means once someone is positive there's no way he can return to that series. Imagine if the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James or the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo tests positive: The title chances for either team would basically be gone in an instant.

But in a season in which the NBA is certainly going to lose money, quite possibly $1 billion or more, there is an obvious appetite for getting back to work if safety can be assured.

"This has been like being an anxious kid that wants to do something but can't, or an anxious dog where you tell him to sit and he looks at you like 'C'mon bro' and his tail starts wagging because he's so excited," All-Star center Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat said. "It's been a whole spectrum of the unknown."

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