NBL to avoid suspending season after PM flags changes

The NBL is aiming for a December start for the 2020-21 season. Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

The NBL is determined to push through Australia's current COVID-19 wave, remaining committed to playing out the 2021-22 season without suspending play.

On Thursday afternoon Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced changes to quarantine and close contact classification, opening the door for fewer postponed games as squads are sent entirely into isolation following a positive test in the camp.

"The recent announcements by the Prime Minister in relation to close contacts specifically should definitely make it easier for us to navigate through the complexities COVID-19 has thrown up and we are extremely confident and determined to push through - and we will do that in a sensible and safe manner as always," league Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger told ESPN.

"A pause isn't something we are contemplating at this stage. When we determined a framework for our fixture initially, we incorporated a number of contingencies that would allow us to reschedule games without needing to necessarily extend the season.

"We remain confident at present that all games that have been rescheduled so far will be able to be played within the scope of the current season dates."

The announced changes from the Prime Minister include close contacts being deemed household contacts of a confirmed case, or someone who has spent four or more hours inside a care facility or household-like facility. Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and ACT will be adopting the new strategy.

Despite cautious optimism for what this could mean for the majority of the league, Loeliger admits an immediate solution for the Perth Wildcats and New Zealand Breakers time on the road remains clouded.

"There is a level of concern for Perth, and New Zealand for that matter, in that their respective governments have different rules and regulations for dealing with COVID-19 and the border restrictions they have in place," he said.

"Both teams are understanding of the situation and know sacrifices must be made to ensure the season rolls on - and we are extremely mindful and grateful of their cooperation and flexibility because we know how tough it is on them and their families - particularly for the Breakers who are on the road for the second consecutive year."

The league fixture is currently scheduled through the end of January, with most games scheduled across weekends to open the possibility of re-scheduled games taking place during the week.

One option that isn't currently on the table is the second instalment of the NBL Cup, which could allow the league to play a large portion of games in one city during a short period of time.

"We are not current contemplating an NBL Cup being staged this season and the Prime Minister's recent announcements would seem to somewhat alleviate the need for us to consider any kind of hub arrangement for the time being," Loeliger said.

"At this point in time, everyone is committed to playing out the season."

After just two games league-wide since December 19, the Perth Wildcats are set to host the Cairns Taipans on New Year's Eve.