Commissioner Adam Silver says travel concerns are the biggest obstacle to overhauling the NBA’s playoff format, relays Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Silver addressed the topic in his annual All-Star Weekend news conference, saying the league office has studied the possibility of eliminating East and West designations and throwing all the playoff teams into one 16-team field.
“I think, as I’ve said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it’s not tradition in my mind, at least,” Silver explained. “Having said that, you also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in The Finals, and obviously, if it’s the top team in the East and top team in the West, I’m not saying this is the case this year, but you could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else.”
It’s not a change Silver could make on his own, as any significant alterations to the playoff format have to be approved by at least 20 franchises. But it’s a topic the commissioner has addressed before, and his decision to devote so much time to it today could be a sign that it’s still being strongly considered.
Silver covered a lot of ground in today’s press conference. Here are a few other topics he addressed:
- The NBA is waiting to hear from an NCAA-appointed commission headed by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice regarding possible changes to the “one-and-done” rule that requires players to be at least one year past their high school graduation date before they can enter the draft. The commission’s report is expected this spring.
- Silver called today’s meeting between representatives of the players’ and referees’ unions “a successful first step.” He addressed the participants at the meeting and said it should help to open lines of communication. “I think it’s fantastic and a great statement about this league that these important stakeholders in this case, our players and the officials, think it’s important enough and they have an obligation to the game where they should be sitting down and talking to each other,” Silver added.
- The G League will expand to 27 teams next season, and Silver’s goal is a full 30-team league where each NBA club has a direct affiliate, adds Tim Cato of SB Nation. Silver noted that about 40 percent of players currently in the NBA have spent time in the G League.
- If the Supreme Court legalizes sports betting later this year, the NBA will be ready. The league has taken proactive steps to prepare and is hoping to take in 1 percent of all profits off the wagering. “It’s what our view of a model bill was, but we’re happy to sit with legislators and talk about what the best system would be,” Silver said.