NBA returning after short turnaround

The Los Angeles Lakers open the defence of their NBA title today (Wednesday NZT) after the shortest off-season in league history.

Just 72 days after clinching their 17th championship, the Lakers host city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers in the second game of the new season.

"It's been a different training camp, to say the least, but for the time we've had, which hasn't been that much, I feel like we've put in the work and gotten better," Lakers forward LeBron James said.

"Obviously, we're not where we want to be long-term but that's absolutely OK because it's a long season, it's a long journey. But to the credit of the guys, we've gotten better as the days have gone on."

After finishing last season at Disney World in a so-called "bubble" designed to keep inhabitants safe from COVID-19, the NBA's 30 teams will resume traveling between cities for games even as the coronavirus outbreak continues to swell nationwide.

"We are very closely monitoring the situation with the pandemic here in the United States and in our cities," Deputy Commissioner Mark TatumTatum said during a global media conference call.

"We feel very confident in our protocols, in working with our medical experts and public health officials and the Players Association and our teams that we have a set of protocols that will keep us safe and healthy."

Among the protocols in place, any player who tests positive for the virus, even if asymptomatic, will not be allowed to exercise for a minimum of 10 days. In addition, the number of players traveling will be limited as teams fly back and forth to games.

The NBA, like other professional leagues operating amid a pandemic, expects bumps along the way. It released only the first half of its schedule in the event that in the second half of the season any games need to be made up.

The Brooklyn Nets will play host to the Golden State Warriors in the season opener this afternoon.

Kevin Durant will play his first regular-season game since rupturing his Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, having left the Warriors to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

Durant spent all of last season recovering and was among the Nets to contract coronavirus when the pandemic shut down the season for four months in March.

"I feel like each game is important to me," Durant said.

"It's no more of importance because I'm playing against my old teammates. I just feel like the game of basketball is going to have me on that level anyway and it's going to be good to see some of my old teammates, good to play against them, good to see some of the people I worked with in Golden State."

The Warriors struggled in the 2019-20 season and finished with a league-worst 15-50 record.

Stephen Curry was limited to just five games due to a broken left hand but his now fully fit.

Klay Thompson missed the season with a torn left ACL suffered in the NBA Finals in June 2019 and will sit out this season as well after her toe his right Achilles tendon in November.

There are just two games on the opening day, with the remaining 26 teams to open their seasons tomorrow.

Steven Adams will make his competitive debut for the New Orleans Pelicans against the Toronto Raptors.