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Royal Reading: More details emerge on the NBA’s return to play plans

Let’s hope the Kings are playing on Aug. 16.

Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

The NBA is going full steam ahead with its plans to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando. The league and players association reached an agreement with a July 31 resumption of play.

More details are emerging on when the play-in games and postseason will officially begin. The Athletic’s Shams Charania shared the dates for the playoffs on Twitter:

If the Sacramento Kings are within four games of the No. 8 seed after the original eight games, they will play the first game of the play-in tournament Aug. 16.

Some of the other details that Charania is reporting include: The NBA will continue to test for performance-enhancing drugs, but testing for recreational drugs will be suspended. This could have an impact on the local marijuana trade in Orlando.

Also, if a player leaves the Orlando bubble, they must quarantine for 10 days upon their return, and have at least two negative coronavirus tests.

In terms of the actual games, one of the teams competing with the Kings will be without an All-Star caliber player. San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge underwent shoulder surgery in late April and is out for the remainder of the season. Although it is never a good thing to see a player get hurt, this helps Sacramento’s chances to get into the play-in tournament.

Aldridge was averaging 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, so this is a huge blow for the Spurs. We don’t know the final details of the schedule, but the Kings are slated to play San Antonio in their final game of the regular season, which should be a win without Aldridge.

With the Spurs expected to drop out of the playoff picture without arguably their best player, it means Sacramento will have to beat out the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns for the No. 9 seed.

I expect it to be a three-team race between the Kings, Pelicans and Blazers, with the Suns and Spurs dropping during the eight-game finish.

The good news for Sacramento is that it is currently scheduled to play New Orleans twice. With the Grizzlies expected to have the toughest schedule of the remaining 22 teams, it’s simple for the Kings: If they take care of the business and win, they’ll be a part of the play-in tournament.

ESPN’s Nick Friedell isn’t bullish on the Kings’ chances:

“Aside from what Bagley may be able to give, the biggest question for the Kings is whether they can find a way into the postseason. Despite the solid play of Fox and Hield, the Kings will likely be on the outside looking in once again unless the group can string together a lot of important wins in a short amount of time. The experience in the bubble will be good for them, but it would be a surprise if they can make it all the way into the postseason this year.”

I disagree with Friedell that it would be a surprise to see Sacramento get in. I’m expecting the unexpected in Orlando. We have no idea how any of this is going to play out with an unprecedented format, but if the Kings can carry the momentum they had before the shutdown they will have as good a chance as the Pelicans and Blazers.

Sacramento won 13 of its final 20 games before the league went on hiatus on March 11, and 7-out-of-10 to get within 3.5 games of Memphis. Although Bagley has been inconsistent when he is on the court, he provides head coach Luke Walton another option for the deep front court.

Do you agree with Friedell that it will be a surprise to see the Kings get in? How much of a chance do you think Sacramento has to finish as the No. 9 seed?

On to some more links:

One NBA insider weighed in with his opinion on the Kings’ chances to get in the playoffs. NBC Sports’ Tom Habersoth thinks it will be wide open for all of the 22 teams who make the trip to Orlando, including Sacramento.

If the Kings don’t get into the play-in tournament, they will have a small chance at winning the NBA Draft Lottery. ESPN breaks down the lottery odds for all of the non-playoff teams.

We know the one player Sacramento can’t lose in free agency. Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes goes into detail on why it’s important for the Kings to re-sign Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Who are the best players in Kings franchise history? Ashish Marthur of Clutch Points shared his top-five list.

What kind of drills were Sacrament’s coaches have the players do during the quarantine? NBA TV’s latest segment of “Working From Home” featured Luke Walton and the rest of the Kings coaching staff.