6:53pm: The NBA has sent the proposed changes for the 2021/22 season to all teams, including a 78-game regular season, an in-season tournament, a play-in tournament for the No. 7 and 8 playoff spots, and reseeding the playoff semifinal teams based on regular-season record, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.
A $1.5MM bonus would be given to the coaching staff of the in-season tournament champion, Charania adds. He also provides a few more details on how the proposed in-season tournament would work.
4:00 pm: As the NBA ponders ways to make an in-season tournament work, one idea being discussed is a payout of $1MM per player to the winning team of that tournament, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski explains, the league is hopeful that such a significant financial incentive would motivate players to “treat a new tournament with a competitive fervor.”
Per Wojnarowski, the NBA is mulling the possibility of a tournament that would begin with pool play as part of the regular-season schedule. The six divisional winners – based on pool-play records – and the two teams with the next-best records in pool play would then advance to an eight-team, single-elimination tournament. The club that wins all three of its knockout-round matchups would be the tournament champion, and each of that club’s players would receive $1MM.
The idea comes with some potential complications. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), about half the NBA’s players earn less than $4MM and would likely be highly motivated by a $1MM prize, but it’s not clear whether stars making upwards of $30-40MM per season would fully buy in. According to Wojnarowski, there’s a belief that some players might prefer the five-day break – for teams that don’t qualify for the single-elimination tournament – rather than trying to compete for a winner-take-all financial prize.
Team owners, particularly in large markets, are also concerned about whether an in-season tournament would generate enough revenue to make up for potentially losing two regular-season home games, says Wojnarowski. If a tournament is introduced, most teams would likely only play 78 or 79 regular-season games.
The NBA’s Board of Governors appears to be more aligned on the concept of a postseason play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth seeds and the idea of reseeding the conference finals, Woj notes.
The league continues to work toward instituting scheduling changes for the 2021/22 season. In order for that goal to be achieved, the Board of Governors would have to approve them at their meeting in April, per ESPN. At least 23 of 30 teams would have to vote in favor of the changes, and the players’ union would need to be on board as well.