In recent reports, amidst the doubts regarding the future or the season, Woj has reported that the NBA would like to crown a 2020 champion by labour day weekend. This leaves a few possibilities for how they can resume the season, and have the season completed by that date. Obviously, all of these options are contingent on when the NBA gets a medical okay to have players play, and potentially have fans attend games.
The first option, would be to complete the regular season whenever they are able to, as most teams have 13-16 games left. Then, if possible with the timeline, have a normal playoff format, just as they have in past years. This would obviously require them to return as early as possibly, likely as early as June or July to have both a normal playoff format and finish the regular season. This seems extremely unlikely, and if it were to occur, the games would likely have to occur in one location without fans, to avoid increased risk of spreading the virus.
Another option would be to begin the playoffs with the standings as of the season suspension, and have a normal playoff format. Again, this would require at least 2 months of time, to have proper rest between games and to conclude the finals by early September. This does seem possible, but would result in players first games back being crucial first round playoff games. Players would also have very limited team practices before these games, if any, and games would again likely have to be played in one location with possibly no fans.
An idea that seems realistic would be to shorten the length of early playoff series, as it seems unlikely there would be enough time for 2 months of playoff basketball before September 7th. A potential format could be best-of-3 first round, best-of-5 second round and conference finals, followed by a 7 game NBA finals. Although it is unorthodox, and would again require players to be thrust into the playoffs as soon as the NBA resumes, it seems the most likely scenario. These playoffs could happen in a much more limited timeframe, and it is even possible that if players are isolated up until the season resumes, we may seem teams able to play on their homefloors and even with fans later on in the playoffs.
The final option, which seems extreme and unlikely to be put into place, is a march madness-esque single elimination playoff. It has been discussed that this tournament could involve all 30 teams, or only the 16 currently in playoff positions. Obviously, this idea is out there as there may be a very small time frame to try and crown an NBA champion. However, this would be a massive change from previous seasons, and seems unlikely due to the likelihood of upsets due to players only just beginning to play again.
As you can see, the NBA and other professional leagues have many important decisions to make when it comes to ending this season, and how it will affect the upcoming 2020-21 season. The least sports fan can do is hope we get to see sports again in the near future, as that is in no way guaranteed.