John Wall last played in an NBA game exactly 17 months ago but the Washington Wizards point guard says he is fit and ready to go again.

"I'm 110 per cent. I'm healthy," he said on Tuesday during a conference call.

Wall has not played since December 26, 2018, missing the remainder of the 2018-19 season and all of the 2019-20 season while recovering from surgery for bone spurs in his left heel and a torn left Achilles tendon.

The 29-year-old has appeared in just 73 games since the start of the 2017-18 season.

"I'm itching to get back out there," Wall said.

Though the five-time All-Star is eager to return to the court, Wall said he is "taking [his] time with the rehab" and is not planning to return if the 2019-20 season restarts.

The Wizards' plan has been for him to focus on being at full speed in time for the 2020-21 season.

A return this season would also seem to make little sense for a Wizards team unlikely to challenge for a playoff spot.

Preliminary discussions have taken place between the NBA and the Walt Disney Company about resuming the 2019-20 season at an isolated site near Orlando, Florida in late July, but the league still has not settled on a format for a return.

It has been reported the NBA would like teams to reach a total of 70 regular-season games – about five more for most clubs – to fulfil contracts with local broadcast affiliates.

The Wizards have played 64 games, and at 24-40 they sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, five and a half games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth and final playoff spot.

"I don't know what the protocol the organisation or the coaching staff want me to be on," Wall said. "I will kind of just let them make that decision, them and my agent."

It has not been announced how the 2019-20 NBA season will be concluded if games resume, but Portland star Damian Lillard says he will not play if the Trail Blazers do not have a shot at a playoff spot.

Preliminary discussions have taken place between the NBA and the Walt Disney Company about resuming the 2019-20 season at an isolated site near Orlando, Florida in late July, but the league still has not settled on a format for a return. 

It has been reported the NBA would like teams to reach a total of 70 regular season games – about five more for most clubs – to fulfil its contracts with local broadcast affiliates.

The Trail Blazers have played 66 games, and at 29-37 they sit in ninth place in the Western Conference, three and a half games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Speaking to Yahoo Sports, Lillard said: "If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team.

"But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now.

"If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games."

The NHL has proposed a 24-team playoff bracket, and Lillard would be open to something similar.

“If they come back and say it's something like a tournament, play-in style, between the number seven and number 12 seeds, if we're playing for playoff spots, then I think that's perfect," the five-time All-Star said.

Lillard, who is fifth in the NBA in scoring this season with a career-best 28.9 points per game, also likes Portland's chances to make a deep run if the team is the playoff picture.

The Blazers advanced to the Western Conference finals last year, and should have center Jusuf Nurkic and power forward Zach Collins in the line-up when games resume after the two combined to miss all but three games due to injuries before the season was paused.

"It would suck not to get in the playoffs because our thing was, we had fought ourselves back into position to get a spot," Lillard said.

"We had our starting center and starting power forward coming back, so we had a lot to look forward to and for a great reason. Now, they're healthy and have extra time to train and rehab while everybody's rusty.

"So now, they won't be coming back as the only rusty players. And if everybody's rusty, we can come in here and beat everybody.”

The debate over who is basketball's G.O.A.T has been reignited.

The release of 'The Last Dance' - ESPN's docuseries on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls - has brought Michael Jordan's exploits back to the forefront of people's minds.

And the suspension of the current NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic means current superstar LeBron James has, for the time being at least, been unable to respond on the court.

However, this week marks three years since James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers, sunk a deep three-pointer in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals to pass Jordan and become the NBA's all-time playoff points leader.

Stats Perform has crunched the numbers on the two icons of the game to look at how they compare when the spotlight shines brightest.

 

PILING ON THE POINTS

That record-breaking shot from beyond the arc against the Boston Celtics moved James beyond Jordan's all-time haul of 5,987 points in his 212th game.

However, his boyhood hero's tally came in just 179 games, with Jordan having averaged a staggering 33.4 points per game, compared to James' 28.9.

There are still multiple postseason records Jordan holds too, including most points in a game (63 - which he accrued in the Bulls' incredible double-overtime loss to the Celtics in 1986) and consecutive games with at least 20 points (60).

Despite having seven-time All-Star Scottie Pippen also on the roster, Jordan was clearly the go-to guy for the Bulls on offense and he led them in scoring in 168 of his 179 playoff appearances.

James has led his teams in scoring (including ties) in an NBA-record 189 playoff games - out of 239 appearances - despite calling Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving team-mates at specific points.

 

JAMES: AN ALL-AROUND THREAT

While Jordan comes out on top in points per game, James has the edge in most other categories.

The current Los Angeles Lakers star averages more rebounds (8.9 to 6.4), assists (7.1 to 5.7) and blocks (0.97 to 0.88) per playoff game than Jordan, who does average more steals (2.10 to 1.75) - and it was robbing Karl Malone of the ball that famously helped MJ deliver championship number six 22 years ago.

James is, marginally, a more efficient postseason shooter, scoring from .491 of his attempts compared to Jordan's .487, though the two are neck and neck (.332) from three-pointers.

The all-around threat of James is perhaps best highlighted by the fact he has 23 playoff triple-doubles - second only to Magic Johnson's 30 - while Jordan made just two across his illustrious career.

 

COUNT THE RINGS

Of course, the ultimate goal for any successful team is to end the NBA Finals holding aloft the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, something Jordan has done on six occasions, twice as many as James.

Jordan went 6-0 in Finals - and was named MVP of each series - while James has a 3-6 record - and three Finals MVP awards - across stints with the Cavaliers and Miami Heat.

The Bulls' success in the 1990s - when they twice three-peated - means Jordan won 66.5 per cent of the playoff games he appeared in, a number that James (currently 65.3 per cent) will surely soon eclipse with his Lakers team primed for a deep playoff run when this season resumes.

Would another three rings see James surpass Jordan in the eyes of many? For now, it remains a fascinating debate.

Lionel Messi could emulate Michael Jordan's 'Last Dance' by winning the 2022 World Cup with Argentina, midfielder Lucas Biglia says.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has mostly endured disappointment at international level since winning Olympic gold in 2008.

Messi was awarded the Golden Ball at the 2014 finals, when Argentina lost the final to Germany, before going on to lose back-to-back Copa America finals against Chile.

The Barcelona star will be 35 by the time of the next World Cup in Qatar, which is due to be held during November and December to avoid the harsh summer conditions.

Biglia played alongside Messi at senior international level for seven years until retiring after they were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by eventual winners France.

The Milan midfielder believes Messi can still taste glory on the global stage, though, having recently enjoyed the Netflix documentary on Michael Jordan's memorable sixth and final NBA championship triumph with the Chicago Bulls in 1998.

"I finished The Last Dance the other day, it was excellent," Biglia told FM 94.7. "It got me thinking that, in a few years, hopefully we will be able to watch something similar with our own phenomenon.

"[We could] learn a load of things about his day-to-day. Because you see him train, you see him play but so many things happen on a day-to-day basis that you don't know about, as we see [with Jordan] in the series.

"The scene that I would like to see in the future is the one when Jordan is hugging the [NBA] trophy and crying. I would like to see that with Messi and the World Cup. That I would like to see. I know what it would mean for him and for the Argentine people."

Argentina's defeat in the 2016 Copa America final – the third time Messi has finished runner-up at the tournament – led to the Barca forward quitting international football for a time.

Biglia admits it has been tough to see Messi endure so much disappointment with his country given his overall success in the sport.

He added: "Why does a person have to suffer so much? In the last World Cup, to see how the elimination hit him, that's when you ask yourself, 'why?'. That stayed with me. Not just on the pitch, but off it.

"It hurts me to see him suffer so much and makes me ask myself why he has to suffer in that way. I pray to God that we can see him at the next World Cup in two years' time."

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale does not understand why he is so heavily criticised for playing golf and insists his love of the sport makes him a better footballer.

Bale has faced scrutiny in Spain for thinking too much about golf and not playing for Madrid, where he has been plagued by numerous injury issues in recent years.

The Wales international has been nicknamed 'the Golfer' by his Madrid team-mates and riled his own fans in November when posing with a flag that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order".

However, Bale has defended his decision to regularly tee it up and pointed to the example set by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who also shares a passion for golf and has previously played on the Korn Ferry Tour.

"A lot of people have problems with me playing golf, I don't know what the reason is," he told the Erik Anders Lang Show podcast. "I've spoken to doctors and everybody's fine with it.

"The media have this perception that it's not good for me: 'You should be resting, it can cause problems, injuries.' In America, I know Steph Curry plays maybe on the morning of a game. 

"Here, if I play two days before a game it's like, 'What's he doing?'

"I just like going out to play, thinking I've got 18 holes ahead of me. You can get away from the football, away from anything negative that's going on, and reset your mind.

"The next day you feel a bit more fresh and ready to go and concentrate and feel better about football again."

Bale is back in training with Madrid ahead of LaLiga's planned return on June 11, three months on from the season being brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic.

And despite an underwhelming return of two goals and two assists in 14 league appearances in 2019-20, the 30-year-old is content with his performances this term.

"The thing with football now is everything is based around results. That's the problem," he said. 

"You might play amazingly, not score for five games and everyone says, 'He's having a terrible time.'

"People just like goals, assists, 'wow' things. And sometimes that doesn't always happen. I've played terribly, then I've scored two goals, and everyone says, 'Great game.'

"People can have their own opinions, as long as I know I've tried my best and I've played as well as I can then I'm happy with that."

Boston Celtics executive director of performance Phil Coles believes there is a "significant place" for artificial intelligence and data in the NBA.

The use of machine learning and AI has helped revolutionise sport and basketball in recent years, as professional teams look for any advantage they can get.

Analytics goes way beyond recording basic stats such as points, rebounds and assists, the new metrics and data are able to more accurately quantify and predict player and team performance.

Asked about AI and data in the world of basketball, Coles told Stats Perform News: "I think there's a significant place for it. But with everything, it's about using that data well.

"There's two aspects to how well data is used. Firstly, how good is the data you collect, what's the validity and the reliability of that data? Secondly, what is the practical outcome or the improvement you can gain from that? There's no magic bullet or right answer as to how to do that. We're always looking at anything that might help us.

"Certainly, in the performance world, collecting physical data is a huge component of that. But, it's not necessarily we're looking to find a magic bullet. It's trying to have as much information as we could possibly have and try to use it as appropriately as we can in our situation."

The Orlando Magic became the first NBA team to use AI player tracking data when they signed a deal with Stats Perform in 2019.

Orlando use tracking data produced by AutoSTATS to analyse collegiate players and improve evaluation and decisions for the NBA Draft. The first-of-its-kind technology in sports, AutoSTATS delivers comprehensive player-tracking data directly from video through patented AI and computer vision technology.

The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled to be take place on June 25, though that could change amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How will Coles – who heads the performance team – and the Celtics approach the draft?

"Our performance team is involved in the sense of giving as much of a full physical profile to the decision-makers as we can," the Australian said. "Obviously, [general manager and president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge leads that field and the basketball analysts are involved, a number of coaches, scouts and all of the front office.

"Our role in that is to give them as much information as we can on the physical qualities of each player, the injury histories of each player. Predicting the future in those things can be fraught with danger, but that's where having as much data as possible is useful and being able to interpret that data wisely is useful.

"Ultimately, we are one small component of a really large process. Our component is to try to define as much as we can the physical qualities of the players they're looking at."

NBA icon Patrick Ewing has been discharged from hospital and is recovering well after contracting coronavirus.

The 11-time All-Star revealed on Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating in hospital.

Ewing's son, Patrick Ewing Jr, gave a positive update on the Georgetown coach and New York Knicks great's condition on Monday.

He tweeted: "I want to thank all the doctors and hospital staff for taking care of my father during his stay, as well as everyone who has reached out with thoughts and prayers to us since his diagnosis.

"My father is now home and getting much better. We'll continue to watch his symptoms and follow the CDC guidelines.

"I hope everyone continues to stay safe and protect yourselves and your loved ones."

Ewing won a national championship with Georgetown in 1984 and won gold medals with Team USA at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics.

The former Seattle SuperSonics and Orlando Magic center was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Basketball's EuroLeague season has been abandoned and there will be no 2019-20 champions, it was announced on Monday.

The campaign was still in its regular-season stage when the coronavirus pandemic forced the league to be suspended in March.

Five teams had already secured play-off places after 28 of the scheduled 34 rounds of games, with three more berths up for grabs.

Anadolu Efes Istanbul sat top of the standings, ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona, with CSKA Moscow fourth and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in fifth place.

However, the EuroLeague Commercial Assets (ECA) executive board declared the season over, announcing the 2020-21 EuroLeague will start on October 1.

It said "every possible option" had been explored before reaching that decision, also announcing the cancellation of the EuroCup campaign.

Given the spread of COVID-19, its degrees of evolution, and the differing ways in which its spread is being controlled within Europe, the ECA said there were "no guarantees" teams would be able to travel to games.

The ECA added in a statement: "In keeping with our continued values of sports integrity and fairness, the executive board decided not to recognise any team as the champion for the 2019-20 EuroLeague, nor the EuroCup."

Euroleague Basketball president and chief executive Jordi Bertomeu said: "Without a doubt, this is the most difficult decision we have had to take in our 20-year history.

"Obviously, we had many motivations to resume the 2019-20 season, but in such an exceptional situation, we have to put people's health first and ahead of any other interest: our players, our coaches, our referees, our clubs, their staff, our league staff, our broadcasters, and all of their families. By doing so, we stay true to our beliefs and what we stand for."

It is 55 years since Muhammad Ali controversially won his rematch with Sonny Liston, while Liverpool sensationally floored Milan on this day in 2005.

Ali retained his heavyweight title with a first-round knockout but there were doubts over whether Liston should have been counted out.

Liverpool picked themselves up off the canvas to pull off a stunning comeback and beat Milan to win a dramatic Champions League final a decade and a half ago.

LeBron James broke one of Michael Jordan's records more recently on May 25 and Bayern Munich were crowned champions of Europe at German rivals Borussia Dortmund's expense in 2013.

1965 - Liston contentiously counted out

Liston was on a revenge mission after Ali, or Cassius Clay as he was then known when they fought for the first time, defied the odds to dethrone him in Miami Beach in February 1964.

Yet the rematch was over soon after it started, proving to be a massive anti-climax for a small crowd at the unlikely venue of Central Maine Civic Center, Lewiston, Maine.

Liston went down when he was caught by a right hand from the champion in the opening round and referee Jersey Joe Walcott attempted to get Ali back into his corner as the challenger lay on the deck.

Although Liston rose to continue fighting, Walcott quickly stopped the fight after consulting the timekeeper, with the verdict that the former champion had not got back to his feet in time.

 

2005 - The 'Miracle of Istanbul'

Liverpool hauled themselves off the ropes to conjure up the most unlikely of victories at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul 15 years ago.

Milan were favourites to be crowned champions of Europe for a seventh time and lived up to that billing when they cruised into a 3-0 lead in a one-sided first half, Hernan Crespo scoring twice after Paolo Maldini's early opener.

Liverpool roared back after the break, though, with Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso on target in the space of six minutes to bring them level.

Milan did not know what had hit them and they endured the agony of losing on penalties, Jerzy Dudek saving from Andriy Shevchenko to give Liverpool a 3-2 shoot-out victory after looking down and out at half-time.

 

2013 - Robben downs Dortmund

There was also drama at Wembley when Bayern beat Dortmund in the first all-German Champions League final.

Bayern stunned their Bundesliga rivals by snatching a 2-1 victory with just over a minute of normal time remaining, Arjen Robben the hero.

Mario Mandzukic put the Bavarian giants in front on the hour-mark, but Ilkay Gundogan levelled from the penalty spot eight minutes later.

Winger Robben settled it with extra time looming, though, nipping in with a sharp turn of foot and slotting past Roman Weidenfeller to end Bayern's 12-year wait for European glory. 

 

2017 - LeBron moves past Jordan's playoff record

James has been the man for the big occasion so many times during his illustrious career and he made history on this day three years ago.

The superstar became the all-time leading scorer in the NBA playoffs as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 in the Eastern Conference finals.

That victory moved the Cavaliers into the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year, with James also able to celebrate moving past Jordan's playoff points tally of 5,987.

James surpassed that mark in his 212th post-season game, 11 years after his first.

Andrew Bogut quit NBL franchise the Sydney Kings, but the veteran NBA champion is not retiring from basketball just yet.

Bogut announced his exit from the Kings via social media on Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 35-year-old, who won an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors in 2015, had been planning to retire after playing for Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But those plans were put on hold following the decision to push back the Olympics 12 months due to the COVID-19 crisis.

"I have decided not to sign with the Sydney Kings, or any professional sporting team for that matter for the time being," Bogut wrote in a statement via Twitter.

"With everything going on in the world, the future does not look too clear, most notably in regards to sporting leagues worldwide.

"This is by no means a retirement note, but simply saying any concrete decisions are too hard to be made at this point in time.

"The reason I have decided to do this now is to give the Sydney Kings enough notice to act accordingly with free agency being around the corner."

The number one pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, former Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers centre Bogut returned to Australia with the Kings in 2018.

Bogut was named the NBL's MVP in his first season, while he helped the Kings reach the Grand Final this year, though the Perth Wildcats were crowned champions after the series was cut short due to coronavirus.

"I have enjoyed being home with the family and learning more about my kids than I ever could have previously," Bogut, who returned to the Warriors to play the remainder of the 2018-19 season, said.

"My body is enjoying the break after playing basketball for 19 straight months and I hope to be back out on the basketball court in the near future!

"The plan moving forward? Spending time with my wife and kids, slowly getting back into physical shape, and finally making the most out of time we don't traditionally get at home."

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has said all professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps in the state starting Sunday.

Teams must follow all appropriate health protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

With the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS all working on plans to play, Cuomo encouraged sports that can be held without fans in attendance to do so if the economics can be worked out. 

"Do it! Do it!" Cuomo said. "We want you up.

"We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are still staying home, it gives people something to do. It's a return to normalcy. 

"So we are working and encouraging all sports teams to start their training camps as soon as possible. And we'll work with them to make sure that can happen.'' 

New York has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S. with roughly 355,000 reported cases and 29,000 deaths due to COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Real Madrid have two reasons to remember May 24 fondly, while cricketer Nasser Hussain is also unlikely to ever forget the date.

Madrid have lifted the Champions League trophy twice on this day in sporting history, beating familiar opponents on both occasions.

As for Hussain, the former England batsman bowed out with a final innings that was perfectly scripted (well, except for his involvement in an untimely run out).

Take a look back at the major moments to occur through the years.

 

2000 - Madrid prevail in all-Spain final 

Madrid and Valencia made Champions League history in Paris, as two clubs from the same country met in the final of Europe's premier club competition for the first time.

Valencia had reached the showpiece at the expense of Barcelona, including thrashing their LaLiga rivals 4-1 in the first leg of the semi-final on their way to a 5-3 aggregate triumph (the same scoreline by which they had knocked out Lazio in the previous round).

However, Vicente del Bosque's Madrid ran out comfortable winners on French soil, Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman and Raul with the goals in a resounding 3-0 triumph.

2000 - Pistons legend Thomas rewarded 

A two-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star, Isiah Thomas was honoured for his achievements with a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The point guard was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the second pick in the 1981 draft and went on to spend his entire playing career with the franchise, who retired his No.11 jersey.

Thomas played in 979 regular season games and was the focal point of the Detroit teams that won titles in 1989 and 1990, while the Pistons also had a heated rivalry with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the early 1990s.

Bob McAdoo, a two-time champion himself who was a prolific scorer in a 21-year playing career, was also voted in alongside Thomas.

2004 - Hussain signs out in style

In what would prove to be his final innings, Hussain scored an unbeaten hundred to help England beat New Zealand at Lord's.

The Black Caps had left the hosts needing a tough target of 282 in the final innings of the series opener - and they had England wobbling early at 35-2 following the dismissals of Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher.

Debutant Andrew Strauss combined with Hussain to put on a century stand before the former was run out following a mix-up with his senior batting partner, denying the left-hander - playing on his home ground - the possibility of scoring a century in both innings, as he departed for 83.

Hussain, however, made amends for his role in Strauss' dismissal by going on to reach three figures in a seven-wicket triumph. Three days later, he announced his retirement, swiftly moving from the field of play to the commentary box to start a career in the media.

2014 - Madrid derby sees Real clinch 'La Decima'

A 10th European title finally arrived for Madrid, though not without a dramatic late intervention from Sergio Ramos. Having not won the Champions League since 2002, they appeared set to fall at the final hurdle when they trailed city rivals Atletico 1-0 going into added time in Lisbon.

Diego Godin's first-half header had the newly crowned LaLiga champions on the brink of glory, but Ramos popped up to meet a Luka Modric corner and nod in a last-gasp equaliser.

Carlo Ancelotti's side went on to dominate in extra time, goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored from the penalty spot, sealing a 4-1 triumph.

To rub salt in the wounds for Atletico, boss Diego Simeone was sent off before the final whistle having ran onto the pitch to confront Raphael Varane following an incident in the aftermath to Ronaldo's goal.

Eddie Sutton, the first college basketball coach to take four different schools to the NCAA Tournament, died on Saturday. He was 84.

Sutton's family said he died of natural causes in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, surrounded by his three sons and their families.

"Dad and Mom treated their players like family and always shared the belief that his teachings went beyond the basketball court," the family wrote. "He cherished the time he spent at every school and appreciated the support of their loyal fans. He believed they deserved so much credit in the success of his programs."

Sutton was elected to the National Basketball Hall of Fame last month after winning 804 games during his 37-year coaching career at the Division I level.

He will be posthumously inducted as part of the 2020 class in August, along with Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.

Sutton coached at Southern Idaho, Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and San Francisco and reached the Final Four three times. He compiled a 260-75 record at Arkansas from 1974-85 and made nine NCAA Tournament appearances.

Sutton's career was tarnished when he resigned as Kentucky coach in 1989 after four seasons during an NCAA investigation into the program. The Wildcats would eventually receive a two-year postseason ban and were not allowed on live television for the 1989-90 season.

After beginning his coaching career as an assistant at Oklahoma State in 1958, Sutton returned to Stillwater as head coach of the Cowboys in 1990. During his 16 seasons as head coach, Oklahoma State made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and reached Final Fours in 1995 and 2004.  

Sutton resigned following the 2005-06 season after a drunk-driving crash.

In 2005, the school announced the court at Gallagher-Iba Arena would be named Eddie Sutton Court.

The NBA is in preliminary discussions with the Walt Disney Company about resuming the 2019-20 season at an isolated site near Orlando, Florida in late July.  

Games would take place at the Wide World of Sports complex, a Disney-owned campus that spans 255 acres and features enough space to accommodate practices and lodging.  

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass announced the "exploratory" discussions on Saturday in a statement, noting that the players' union is also part of the conversations.  

"Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved," Bass said. "We are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place."

Disney is the primary owner of ESPN, one of league's key broadcast partners.  

The NBA has been on indefinite hiatus since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first major figure in American sports to test positive for COVID-19.

After several months off, many players – including all who went abroad during the hiatus – would need to quarantine for 14 days before rejoining their team-mates for a training camp leading up to the resumption of play.  

Players may be recalled to their teams' training facilities as early as June 1, but the NBA may prefer that they report directly to a central location to reduce travel.  

Players who returned to their home countries may also face challenges with local travel restrictions.  

The NBA still has not settled on a format for a return to play, such as the NHL's proposed 24-team playoff bracket.  

It has been reported the NBA would like teams to reach a total of 70 regular season games – about five more for most clubs – to fulfill its contracts with local broadcast affiliates.  

Others have claimed completing the regular season games and following it with a full 16-team postseason would cause too much congestion, potentially pushing the start of 2020-21 well into December.  

The league, like the NHL, has explored the idea of a play-in tournament that would reduce the playoff field to 16 teams without finishing the entire regular season slate.  

The NBA's board of governors is scheduled to have a conference call next Friday to further discuss a return to play.  

The Boston Celtics are working on the assumption that the NBA season will resume following the coronavirus pandemic, according to the team's executive director of performance Phil Coles.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, leading to the indefinite suspension of the 2019-20 NBA campaign in March, while the NHL and MLS seasons have also come to a halt – the start of the MLB term has been delayed, too.

It remains to be seen when, and if, the season will restart as NBA commissioner Adam Silver weighs up various options, including the league returning via two locations – Orlando and Las Vegas.

As the league tries to resume, Coles told Stats Perform: "There's lots of desire for the league to come back and there's lots of really intelligent people working their hardest to see if there's an opportunity for that to happen. Whether it does happen or not, it's not something I can comment on.

"We're working on the assumption that we will come back and if we don't, we will be better prepared when we go next time."

The coronavirus outbreak has proven challenging for teams, athletes and staff – NBA practice facilities have only started to re-open this month after the league had targeted no earlier than May 8 for franchises to return to their complexes.

Former San Antonio Spurs high-performance manager and Liverpool's ex-head of physical therapy Coles said: "We were in Milwaukee overnight waiting for a game when the news came through that the league was going to be suspended. We flew back that next day on our private plane and everyone has been completely isolated from each other ever since that point in time.

"There's been a lot of challenges as to how to communicate with each other, amongst the staff and players. We've overcome those as best we can and there's been some opportunities for us to spend time reviewing what we're doing – reviewing our processes and trying to improve for when we eventually get back and moving forward."

The Celtics (43-21) were playing well prior to the postponement – third in a crammed Eastern Conference, behind the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) and defending champions the Toronto Raptors (46-18).

"It's obviously frustrating but it's the same situation for everybody," Coles said. "We were having a very good season and when we come back, we will have to start again and try to get back to where we were. But we're in exactly the same boat as everyone else, so we have the same opportunity as we had then, and we will have the same opportunity when we come back."

Jayson Tatum had been at the forefront of Boston's impressive season, the All-Star averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists for the Celtics to establish himself as one of the best players in the league.

"It's always great to see young players continue to improve," Australian Coles, who was handpicked to join Gregg Popovich's staff in San Antonio, added. "Like all great players, they have that mix of talent, drive and work ethic. He is a good example of that but there's lots of examples. It's a young squad in general and there's lots of good young players who work really hard and are all progressing.

"I'm new here, so I can't say I've followed his progression as closely as some of the other staff. But everyone in the club and in the city who supports the club are excited to see the development is there and see him really blossom into a superstar."

Amid uncertainty around the league, how long would it take for players to be ready to return to action?

Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul has previously said players would require at least four weeks of training to get into shape.

Coles added: "It will vary from individual to individual. Again, it's something the league and the players association will consider closely. It's something where everyone will be in the same boat. From our perspective, we will do the best we can with the timeframe we're given.

"What an ideal timeframe is, it's hard to say. It would be very individual. Some players would be in great shape and ready to go and others will need some more time to build up. And depending on what their role is in the team and the structure for if and when we come back, it will be different. Everyone is in the same boat, so I don't know that there needs to be an ideal timeframe, it just needs to be something that everyone is agreed upon."

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