NBA In Talks To Alter Seeding, Schedule And Playoff Play-In

Serious discussions between the NBA, National Basketball Players Association and broadcast partners could see an altered league with changes to the league’s schedule, reseeding of four conference finalists, a postseason play-in and a 30-team in-season tournament, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski report.

As the discussions progress, the hope is to bring a vote to the annual April meeting of the NBA’s Board of Governors which could include most, if not all, of the proposals, per ESPN’s report. The goal would be for these changes to take effect for the 2021/22 season, the NBA’s 75th anniversary.

For starters, the proposal would include a reduction in the schedule from 82 games to a minimum of 78 games, Lowe and Wojnarowski report. There would exist a remote possibility of teams possibly playing a maximum of 83 games given various tournament and play-in scenarios, sources told ESPN.

In regards to the in-season tournament, the league is looking at 30-team participation that begins with a divisional group stage of already scheduled regular-season contests.  Coming out of the tournament would be six divisional winners based on the best home and away records in the group stage, according the report. Teams with the next best two records advance to a single-elimination knockout round under the current proposal.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been a major proponent of the in-season tournament, modeling it after European soccer. Silver explained to the New York Times’ Marc Stein in late May that he was examining various scenarios to alter the league.

“It’s incumbent on me to constantly be looking at other organizations and seeing what it is we can do better and learn from them,” Silver told Stein. “In the case of European soccer, I think there is something we can learn from them.

“I also recognize I’m up against some of the traditionalists who say no one will care about that other competition, that other trophy, you create. And my response to that is, ‘Organizations have the ability to create new traditions.’ It won’t happen overnight.”

As far as the postseason play-in, Wojnarowski and Lowe write that two four-team tournaments would transpire with the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th seeds in each respective conference. The seventh would host the eighth seed with the victor taking seventh seed honors. The same would apply for the ninth and 10th seed, with the winner in each respective conference earning the final playoff spots.

While the baseline ideas are being discussed, other things that will need to be ironed out. How players and coaches are compensated for the changed schedule, how television partners would be impacted with changed schedules and more. However, there’s some traction to potentially change the landscape of the NBA for the 2021/22 campaign.

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21 thoughts on “NBA In Talks To Alter Seeding, Schedule And Playoff Play-In

  1. bballblk

    Why do we need an in-season tournament in the NBA when there’s already a postseason tournament? The only reason European soccer leagues play in-season tournaments is because 1) they don’t have playoffs and 2) they want to give lower-tier teams games against top-tier teams; there aren’t going to be G-League or college teams in the NBA’s tournament.

    • Boston2AZ

      “Why do we need an in-season tournament in the NBA when there’s already a postseason tournament?”


  2. richard dangler

    This is the dumbest idea ever. There is nothing wrong with the current set up. I hope that the league will listen to the fans.

  3. natsfan3437

    Just have another playoff tournament to determine the top four picks.

    Who wins the tournament 1st
    Who plays in the last title game 2nd
    3rd and 4th picks are the two teams that the winner and loser of the last game get. They play a game to decide who gets what Pick.
    Every other Pick is based on the old lottery system. That takes away tanking because you would have to have a good team (relative to the other tournament members) to actually get a top 4 Pick.

    • sorayablue

      This idea is absolutely CRAZY and I LOVE it! This would be so much fun to watch.

  4. amk3510

    Silver is easily winning the “lets sell out our game for more money” contest. This midseason tournament idea sounds like something we would hear from a 12 year old kid not the commissioner of the sport.

  5. jorge78

    Since the 7th and 8th seeds rarely advance in the post season playoffs I guess Silver is trying to drum up excitement. (and more gold) for those spots…..

  6. Appalachian_Outlaw

    So they want to have a tournament to determine who plays in a playoff tournament? First they’re going to hold a midseason tournament though for no apparent reason? This is the single stupidest idea ever. My head hurts from the sheer idiocy of this concept.

  7. Jason Lancaster

    I love this idea. Makes the season feel shorter, there should be less “load management,” more opportunities for scrappy teams and players to get recognition, and probably puts more pressure on bad teams to improve quickly.

    I get that people don’t like change, and that this will slightly impact history, but come on: the NBA has changed every decade. The three second rule, the three point line, racial integration, ABA merger… Lots of big (and good) changes in the past. Why stop making changes now?

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      They’re talking about bringing 2/3rds of the league into the playoff fold, though. That’s insane! What value does the regular season even have then? It barely has any now.

      Also, what I’m about to say I say as a Hornets fan- Charlotte has no business in any type of playoff position at 6-10. Under this proposal, they’re the 10th seed this year, meaning they’d have a chance.

    • x%sure

      People care about those listed things!

      However a comissioner who is open to new ideas can be a good thing… if the idea is a positive one. There are some kernals in all those ideas. And some ergot, to stretch a metaphor.

  8. x%sure

    Playoff games make money, so its easy to say, more playoff games. But there’s already too many playoff games. The “second season” discounts the importance of the first.

  9. x%sure

    There should still be the exact number of RS games: 82, to be able to compare stats.

    There could be a midseason tourney, but the penalty for losing is to have to play less important games to get to the 82. With all 30 teams in, that is 5 extra games, so the RS would be 77. Every team would play one to five games in the tournament depending on how far they got, then finish up with zero to four fill-in games.

    Silver is talking about respecting various parties but is unlikely to consider the parties called FANS or TRADITION or SENSIBILITY.

    Silver will probably blow it.

  10. If they’re going to do play-in games for the last 2 spots (reminds me a little of MLB’s system, which I do not like) it should be 7 vs. 10 and 8 vs. 9.

  11. George Ruth

    Adam Silver is trying to destroy the NBA Game & he is spitting in the faces of fans who believe in the Tradition of the League & not all of the BS that he wants to bring in.

    Silver is a joke & he should be removed from his job

    • SheaGoodbye

      Anyone who wants to preserve tradition for traditions sakes is a joke.

      Change happens. Deal with it.

  12. paladin

    If they drop the season to 78 games does that mean the players will commit to playing the full season? If so, it would make reg season much more exciting. If, players start the I’ve Fallen & Can’t get up routine with the 78 game season I think we’re talking disaster because old schoolers like me will get pissed off with it because it will become total chicken sheet. I still remember when NBA playoffs were on video tape in the late 70’s. The regular season will become more of a distraction than something to follow. Thin red line between Success& Failure, Victory & Defeat, Full Arenas & Empty Ones. No need for mid season Dog & Pony show. This is not Euro soccer, Hello. My suggestion. Make the last two weeks of the season for the 7, 8, 9, 10 and mini two tournament for the last seeds. So those 4 teams start anew and play for the 7-8 spots in the last two weeks…..Basically a six game tournament for the playoffs….

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