A play-in tournament to decide the final two playoff spots in each conference seems likely, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN report.
The tournament being discussed would include teams with the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th best records. A 7 vs. 8 matchup would decide the No. 7 seed in the conference playoffs. The winner of the 9-10 game would then face the loser of the 7-8 game to decide the No. 8 seed.
The tournament would create another revenue stream for the league, which is trying to find ways to make up for last season’s losses due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the likelihood of having few or no fans in the stands for at least a portion of next season. Having more teams participate in the proposed format could also decrease some teams’ desire to tank.
There are concerns of unfairly penalizing a team in the No. 7 slot that has a strong record. However, no standings trigger has been discussed to date.
Commissioner Adam Silver said negotiations between the league and Players Association had reached a critical stage with an increasingly short window to reach an agreement to allow for a December 22 start.
In other developments regarding negotiations, per the ESPN duo:
- The league wants to expand guidelines on sports betting, hard alcohol and casinos in order to generate $80-100MM in revenue.
- Significant increases in the escrow withholding on players’ salaries has been discussed. That includes the possibility of spreading out the players’ losses over multiple seasons, most likely three, so that they don’t take such a substantial financial hit in one year. If that’s the case, the salary cap and luxury tax levels would need to be set over the next three years.
- The league recently told teams that 40% of Basketball Related Income (BRI), which is split between the two parties, could be lost without gate receipts this season.