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.
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.