Magic Rumors

NBA Expected To Approve 22-Team Return-To-Play Format

11:25am: The NBA’s Board of Governors is expected to approve Silver’s plan on Thursday, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

10:00am: When he meets with the NBA’s Board of Governors on Thursday, commissioner Adam Silver intends to propose a return-to-play plan that will see 22 teams resume their seasons, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The NBA reportedly discussed proposals involving 16, 20, 22, or 30 teams last week, with that 22-team format gaining increased support. Although the ownership groups from teams like the Hawks and Bulls expressed a desire to participate, per Charania, the plan will exclude them and the rest of the NBA’s bottom-eight teams in order to limit – to some extent – the number of people the league will have to bring into its “bubble” in Orlando.

As Charania details, the 22-team format would bring back the 16 current playoff teams, along with six additional clubs who are within six games of a postseason spot (the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, Suns, and Wizards).

The plan would see those 22 clubs play eight regular season games apiece, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), before a play-in tournament is held for the eighth seed. The play-in format would be as follows, per Charania:

  • If the No. 9 seed is more than four games behind the No. 8 seed, the No. 8 seed would automatically earn the playoff spot.
  • If the No. 9 seed is within four games of the No. 8 seed, those two teams would enter a play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in the conference. Such a tournament would be double-elimination for the No. 8 seed and single-elimination for the No. 9 seed (ie. a best-of-three series, with the No. 8 seed given a 1-0 lead to start).

Currently, the Grizzlies hold a 3.5-game lead on Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento in the West, with San Antonio four games back, and Phoenix six games back. In the East, the Magic have a 5.5-game lead on the Wizards, so Washington would need to make up some ground to force a play-in tournament.

Besides giving those six current lottery teams a chance to make the postseason, the format will allow all 22 clubs to surpass 70 regular season games, ensuring that many of them meet the requirements for regional TV contracts, which will help out the league financially.

According to Charania, July 31 remains the target date for the resumption of the 2019/20 season, with the draft lottery and combine – which had been postponed indefinitely – now expected to take place in August. Presumably, those events would take different forms than they normally do, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s not clear yet how the 2020 lottery odds may be affected by the play-in tournament format.

[RELATED: Proposed NBA Plan Would Complete Finals By October 12]

The NBA’s proposal for the resumption of the season is also expected to include many medical and safety protocols, Charania notes. Sources tell The Athletic that those protocols will likely include players showering at their hotels rather than in the arena, inactive players sitting in the stands instead of on the bench, and players not being permitted to bring guests into the “bubble” until the postseason begins.

Any proposal from the NBA will require approval from at least three-quarters of the league’s Board of Governors (ie. 23 of 30 team owners). However, even if the plan isn’t every club’s first choice, there’s an expectation that team owners will get behind Silver and vote in favor of his proposal.

The Board of Governors’ Thursday call is scheduled for 12:30pm eastern time, tweets Wojnarowski.

Coronavirus Notes: Playoff Format, Paychecks, Paul

A play-in tournament could result in nine Western Conference teams participating in a 16-team playoff, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. A 22-team format appears to be the most popular plan for the resumption of play. According to Berman, the six extra teams may compete with the two current No. 8 seeds from each conference in an eight-team, single-elimination tournament. Washington would be the only Eastern Conference team among that group of six extra teams.

We have more COVID-19 related news:

  • NBA players received on Monday — the first day of the month — reduced paychecks for the second time since the suspension of play, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. NBA players accepted a 25% reduction on their paychecks beginning on May 15. Starting on June 15, the 25% reduction will likely either decrease or increase based on how many regular-season games the league attempts to play, Marks adds.
  • Players Association president Chris Paul speaks regularly with Adam Silver, which has built trust between the league’s stars and the commissioner, as Royce Young of ESPN details. Paul has talked more than once a week with Silver during the pandemic, serving as the liaison between the players and the commissioner. “I just look at it as guys are actually concerned and they want to know what’s going on,” Paul said. “They should have a say in their future.”
  • Some executives have raised concerns about not allowing all teams to participate in a restart of the season. Get the details here.

Examining Why Magic Will Prioritize Finding Back-Up Point Guard For Markelle Fultz

Players Oppose Going Straight To Postseason When Play Resumes

Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Friday (video link), Ramona Shelburne reported that NBA players she has spoken to are opposed to the idea of advancing directly to the postseason when the league resumes play.

“The one thing that they really don’t want to do is go straight to the playoffs,” Shelburne said. “They might have essentially four months off between March 11 and whenever we get the season resumed, and nobody wants the first meaningful game they play to be a playoff game. They need at least a week – maybe even longer than that – of real games that count for something before they play a playoff game.”

Some of the proposed scenarios for the NBA return would involve just bringing back the 16 playoff teams and advancing directly to the postseason; others would involve only teams at or near the bottom of the playoff picture participating in a play-in tournament. Shelburne suggests that neither of those solutions would be favorable for teams at the top of the postseason picture, who would want some time to shake off the rust and re-establish their chemistry before jumping into the playoffs.

Earlier today, we relayed Shams Charania’s report on the four scenarios the league discussed in its conference call with the Board of Governors call today. We noted in that story that bringing back all 30 teams seems unlikely. Based on Shelburne’s report, it sounds like the NBPA may not be on board with jumping directly to the playoffs with just 16 teams either.

That would leave two scenarios — a World Cup-esque play-in pool, featuring 20 teams, and a “playoffs-plus” option that may feature 22 teams. Shelburne and Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer provided a few more updates on that second option this afternoon, offering the following details:

  • Teams within six games of a playoff spot would be invited to participate, per Shelburne (Twitter link). That means the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, Suns, and Wizards would join the 16 current playoff teams.
  • All 22 teams would likely play eight regular-season games apiece, then a play-in tournament would be held for the eighth seed in each conference, according to O’Connor (Twitter link).
  • While the proposal isn’t yet finalized, it sounds as if conferences would remain in place for the postseason under this scenario, O’Connor adds.

The solution would check off a few boxes for the NBA. It would give every playoff team a solid ramping-up period before the postseason; it would allow many of those 22 teams to reach the 70-game threshold necessary for regional TV contracts; and it would give every team in Orlando something to play for without the league having to bring back all 30 clubs.

However, as O’Connor observes in another tweet, there are some potential downsides as well. Timing could be an issue if the NBA is aiming to resume play on July 31 and requires two or three weeks of regular season games before beginning the playoffs.

Plus, the particulars of the play-in tournament are unclear — for instance, the Magic are currently 5.5 games up on the Wizards and could increase that gap with eight more regular season games to play. Would Washington still be given a chance to steal the eighth seed in that scenario?

There’s no indication yet that the NBA is leaning toward that 22-team concept, and even if the league goes in that direction, it’s possible some details would be tweaked, so we’ll have to wait for further updates on talks between the league, teams, and players. There’s hope that a vote will happen next week.

Magic Notes: Gordon, FA, Vucevic, Bamba

  • NBA scouts believe Magic forward Aaron Gordon is best suited to play power forward and also feel as if he tries to do more than he should in Orlando, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “I think the thing for him is he just has to realize that he has to accept that he is going to be a high-level role player — a borderline All-Star if he plays his role really well,” one scout told The Athletic. “I think in his mind there are times when he sees himself in the same vein as some of the superstars, and I think sometimes that can get in his way.”
  • In a separate mailbag article for The Athletic, Robbins examines the Magic‘s free agency outlook and discusses whether it would make sense for the team to experiment with playing Nikola Vucevic and Mohamed Bamba alongside one another.

Notes On Proposed Formats For NBA’s Return

Although a resumption of the 2019/20 season appears likely, there’s still no clarity on what form the NBA will take upon its return. A potential playoff format has been the subject of much discussion and debate this week, with the league still believed to be considering bringing back anywhere from 16 to 30 teams.

Among other issues, the league must decide whether or not to play any regular season games, whether a play-in pool or play-in tournament makes sense, and whether or not to reseed its playoff teams regardless of conference.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Play-In Pool Format]

As the NBA continues to weigh all those questions, a number of notable basketball writers are sharing their input on the potential format of a return to play. Here are some highlights:

  • In a deep dive, ESPN’s Zach Lowe explores various playoff formats for the NBA’s return, suggesting that a seven-team play-in tournament for the final three postseason spots (currently held by the Grizzlies, Nets, and Magic) could be one solution. No Eastern lottery teams would be involved in such a tournament, but the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs would be.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic contends that most of the experimental postseason proposals are unnecessarily complicated or have dangerous downsides. In Hollinger’s view, the NBA should just keep it simple, bringing back its 16 current playoff teams and play a “normal” postseason. It’s worth noting that Hollinger’s former team, the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, would undoubtedly favor that solution, which forgoes a play-in tournament.
  • In a podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that some people around the NBA believe the league’s inclination to have more than 16 teams return this summer is directly related to a desire to have Pelicans star Zion Williamson involved in any return to play (hat tip to RealGM). New Orleans currently ranks 10th in the West and 18th overall in the NBA standings.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic makes a case for allowing the NBA’s top teams to pick their playoff opponents, regardless of the format the league chooses.
  • If the NBA decides to bring back all 30 teams, the league ought to freeze the draft lottery order based on the current standings in order to avoid a potential tank-fest, says Marc Berman of The New York Post.
  • Chris Mannix of questions whether the NBA should even be prioritizing crowning a champion in 2020, and whether that champ will be viewed as legitimate.

Status Of Jonathan Isaac Remains TBD If NBA Returns

  • The status of Magic forward Jonathan Isaac for the rest of the 2019/20 season remains up in the air, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). A serious knee injury paused Isaac’s third season on January 1st. Isaac, one of the team’s most promising young players, ran on an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill earlier this week. This marked the first time he had run at all since the injury.

Southeast Notes: Jordan, Bamba, Hawks, Draft

While Michael Jordan was no longer the dominant MVP that he was in Chicago days, his stint with the Wizards showcased that he still had game, as I detailed on Jordan became the oldest player (38) to score over 50 points in a game during year one in Washington and became the only player 40 or older to score over 40 in a game during his final season in the league.

Jordan made the All-Star Game during each of his two seasons in Washington but his individual success didn’t translate to the win column, as the club missed the playoffs on both occasions.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Mohamed Bamba has been in the league for two years and the jury remains out on him. One scout tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic that the Magic center’s effort remains a concern. “But the question with Mo, and I think there’s no secret, is there are games when he plays with very low energy,” the scout said. “He just doesn’t seem to be able to turn it up to the level that he needs to consistently and play with a certain amount of energy for a sustained amount of time.”
  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic examines the best draft strategy for the Hawks. The club has been aggressive over the past two drafts, moving around in the top 10 during each event. If Atlanta lands in the top five, as the team is currently projected to do, it may be best served staying put.
  • In a separate piece, Kirschner examines Atlanta’s salary cap situation. The Hawks are expected to have the most salary cap room in the NBA when the offseason arrives.

2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: Orlando Magic

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead at the 2020/21 salary cap situations for all 30 NBA teams. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the NBA, it’s impossible to know yet where the cap for 2020/21 will land. Given the league’s lost revenue, we’re assuming for now that it will stay the same as the ’19/20 cap, but it’s entirely possible it will end up higher or lower than that.

The Magic entered the 2019/20 season looking to build on its strong finish the previous year, but have ended up taking a slight step back instead, entering the hiatus with a 30-35 record after winning 42 games in 2018/19.

With Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Terrence Ross still earning eight-figure salaries for multiple years beyond this season, and Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz expected to eventually be locked up too, the Magic may not be in position to make major changes to their roster within the next year or two unless they do so on the trade market.

Here’s where things stand for the Magic financially in 2020/21, as we continue our Salary Cap Preview series:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • None

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

Assuming they plan to keep their first-round pick and sign Okeke in 2020, the Magic will have more than $102MM in guaranteed money committed to 10 players. That should put the club in position to either re-sign Fournier or accommodate his $17MM player option without approaching tax territory.

Letting Fournier walk would theoretically give the Magic even more flexibility, but probably wouldn’t result in any cap room. It would make more sense for Orlando to operate as an over-the-cap team in that scenario in order to retain its full mid-level and bi-annual exceptions.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Mid-level exception: $9,258,000 3
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,623,000 3


  1. The cap holds for Grant, Afflalo, and Speights remain on the Magic’s books because they haven’t been renounced after going unsigned in 2019/20. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  2. The 16th overall pick in 2019, Okeke has yet to sign his rookie scale contract. He’ll be eligible to sign in 2020/21 for the same amount as the No. 16 pick in the 2020 draft.
  3. These are projected values. If the Magic’s team salary continues to increase, it’s possible they’d be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,718,000).

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are based on the salary cap and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Magic Notes: Facility, Fultz, Offseason, Okeke

After pushing back their target date a couple times, the Magic are moving forward with reopening their practice facility today, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. As we detailed on Wednesday, the team had been waiting on coronavirus test results for a number of asymptomatic players and staffers.

With the Magic set to allow their players to conduct voluntary individual workouts starting Thursday, they’ll become the 11th NBA team to do so, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Reynolds identifies Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Indiana, Sacramento, Toronto, and Utah as the first 10 teams to reopen their facilities.

We’ve covered all those teams’ decisions in recent days except for the Bucks, who slipped through the cracks. They announced on Monday (via Twitter) that they’d be reopening their building on a limited basis.

The Magic were the first team to secure written authorization from a local health authority – along with approval from the NBA – to test asymptomatic players for COVID-19, which means they’re able to be more proactive than other teams in screening who’s entering their building. Most clubs, for now, are conducting basic health and temperature checks on those entering their facilities.

Here’s more on the Magic:

  • After recently polling NBA scouts on Jonathan Isaac‘s outlook going forward, Josh Robbins of The Athletic has done the same for Markelle Fultz, one of Orlando’s other young building blocks. Unsurprisingly, Fultz’s shot-making ability is the primary concern among those evaluators. “Right now, I think he’s more of a backup, which is perfect for him,” one scout said. “The shooting, unless that gets a lot better, he’s a backup. He’s with a good coach who values what he does. He defends. He’s an athletic presence. He can get to the rim. But for him to be a starter and a guy you pay that kind of money to, you’ve got to make shots.”
  • Given the Magic’s limited projected cap flexibility and the fact that they likely won’t have a lottery pick, Robbins says in a mailbag for The Athletic that he thinks the most realistic way for the team to make a splash in the 2020 offseason is to do so on the trade market.
  • Within the same mailbag, Robbins also confirms that 2019 first-rounder Chuma Okeke won’t be joining the Magic if the season resumes, since he’ll have to wait until the 2020/21 league year begins to sign his rookie contract. Okeke, who was recovering from an ACL tear when he was drafted last June, essentially took a redshirt year in the G League.
  • The Magic will be the next team up in our Salary Cap Preview series for ’20/21 — keep an eye out for that story to be published later today.