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.