While every NBA team probably has at least one reason not to be thrilled with the 22-team plan and format the league has settled on for this summer’s return to play, the Magic and Grizzlies are among those who should theoretically have the biggest grievances.
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After all, both teams had comfortable leads for the No. 8 seed when the season was suspended in March. Now they’ll have to win a play-in tournament to secure their respective spots in the postseason if they don’t hold a four-game lead on the No. 9 team in the conference after this summer’s eight “seeding games.”
Speaking to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, however, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman wasn’t critical of the NBA’s plan. Asked multiple times if potentially putting the No. 8 seed up for grabs is fair to the Magic, Weltman was evasive, stressing that his team will try to avoid putting itself in a position where a play-in tournament is necessary, either by catching the Nets or maintaining a big cushion over the Wizards.
“I don’t really think it’s about what’s right for one team,” Weltman said. “I think the league looked at what could be the best way to proceed forward as a league, and there are 30 teams, really all with differing agendas. … There’s no sense in looking at ways to format the rest of the season. Those discussions have come and gone. Now we’re onto actions. It’s time to get ready to play and compete.”
Grizzlies president Jason Wexler also toed the company line in discussing the summer format and its impact on Memphis, as Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays.
“We know how difficult it was for them to try and balance all those competing interests. From our perspective, they certainly addressed the success the team had through the first, roughly, 80 percent of the season — 65 games. And, you know, gave that some weight and credit,” Wexler said, referring to the fact that any play-in tournament would be double-elimination for the No. 8 team, compared to single-elimination for the No. 9 team. “Accordingly, we felt comfortable with what they came up with to move forward.”
No NBA team has issued a statement that doesn’t express support and respect for the decision that commissioner Adam Silver and the league had to make. However, while comments from teams like the Magic and Grizzlies have been fairly innocuous, statements from some of the bottom eight teams that will be left out of the Orlando bubble this summer have expressed more disappointment with the decision.
The Cavaliers, for instance, issued statements that mentioned their disappointment multiple times and stressed that they “would have preferred to continue playing.” The Hawks put out a press release this morning noting that “this certainly wasn’t how we hoped our season would come to an end.”
“It’s fair to say that we are disappointed that our young team will not be allowed to gain more valuable time playing together by being included in the restart of the season,” GM Travis Schlenk and head coach Lloyd Pierce said in a joint statement. “With that said, we understand and respect the countless difficult factors that entered into this decision for the league, and we realize that there are much more important things taking place in our community right now that deserve our attention.”
Ultimately, while everyone may not be thrilled with the outcome, teams recognized that Silver believed his plan was in the best interest of the league as a whole, and the results of Thursday’s Board of Governors vote reflected that — 29 of 30 teams voted in favor of the proposal, with the Trail Blazers representing the only “no” vote.