Revamping the NBA’s schedule is something that has been discussed for years, but every time the topic comes up, nothing ends up changing. Based on a new report, though, it sounds like an overhaul of how the league approaches the regular season and playoffs could change sometime in the near future.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN bring word that the league, Players Association, and broadcast partners are in “serious discussions” about a number of changes. The pair report that the goal is to introduce the various reforms in time for the Board of Governors to vote on them this April, with an eye on implementation for the 2021-22 season.
With the postseason, there are two major changes to how the league would operate. Before things tip off, the NBA would adopt a play-in tournament in both conferences for the final two spots. The team in seventh place would play the team in tenth, while the teams in eighth and ninth would also face off. Both games would be single-elimination, with the winners facing off to determine who gets the No. 7 spot and who faces off against the top team in the conference.
Things would go as normal from there, but once the conference finals roll around, the four remaining teams would be re-seeded based on their regular season records. It’s not quite as drastic of a change as re-seeding the teams at the start of the postseason, but it’s still a way to ensure that the squads that compete in the NBA Finals are, theoretically, involving the two-best teams that make it that deep into the season.
The regular season, meanwhile, would potentially adopt a midseason tournament. Via ESPN:
For the in-season tournament, the NBA is focused on 30-team participation that begins with a divisional group stage of scheduled regular-season games.
Those pre-knockout round games will be part of the regular season schedule. Six divisional winners — based on home and away records in the group stage — and teams with the next best two records would advance to a single-elimination knockout round, league sources said.
Those teams could each potentially compete in quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
The timetable for this would apparently be from after November to mid-December, a bit of a dead period on the league’s schedule as it bridges the gap from the opening few weeks to its marquee day, Christmas. The report indicates that the league had proposed holding this in January/February as a lead-in to All-Star weekend, but the idea of potentially cutting down some players’ breaks made it so that idea “faded fast.”
To facilitate all of this, the regular season would be cut down by a few games, with Wojnarowski and Lowe reporting that most teams would play 78 or 79 times a year. However, that could jump up, as “there’s an extremely limited possibility of a team playing a maximum of 83 games based on upon possible tournament and play-in scenarios.”
These would be pretty major changes, and at least at the outset, it’d surely take awhile for everyone to get on board, something that is especially true for the midseason tournament. The league needs to get the NBPA to agree to any changes before they’re implemented, and ESPN reports both Adam Silver and Michele Roberts are involved in these discussions, so we’ll wait and see if al of these proposed reforms can eventually become reality.