Don't call it a comeback! According to all reports, NBA returning isn't an "if" anymore, but only a "when and how." The Board of Governors has a conference call on Friday, and it's expected that all rules and guidelines for the season return will be voted on. Everything is on the table, and there are a lot of interested parties. Disney is practically a lock, so we know the "where." "How" on the other hand, is a more complicated issue.
“Oh man, is there a lot of haggling going on!”
The overall sentiment is that the NBA won't resume its season with all 30 teams. That way, the risk of a positive test would be reduced. But, a few teams were in the playoff hunt and want the chance to get in. As is tradition, this mostly applies to the Western Conference.
Grizzlies are 8th in the West with 32 wins and 33 losses. Blazers, Pelicans, and Kings are 3.5 games back, and the Spurs are 4 games back. Blazers and Pelicans have a particularly strong case to make, as they had very favorable strength of schedule left, while the Grizzlies had one of the toughest schedules remaining. If you don't bring all 30 teams back, that implies a different format of a certain number of regular-season games would be played - possibly a play-in tournament for teams with a realistic chance to get in the playoffs.
The play-in tournament isn't the only change we may witness. Changing the playoffs to a 1-16 seeding has been talked about for a long time, but travel has always been one of the biggest issues in changing the playoff format. That's not the case this time, as everyone will be at Disney World. This is a great opportunity for the NBA to test out 1-16, and it seems the conversation is leaning in that direction. If the Board of Governors were to accept such a format, here's our current playoff picture.
- (1) Bucks vs. (16) Magic
- (2) Lakers vs. (15) Nets
- (3) Raptors vs. (14) Grizzlies
- (4) Clippers vs. (13) Mavericks
- (5) Celtics vs. (12) 76ers
- (6) Nuggets vs. (11) Pacers
- (7) Jazz vs. (10) Rockets
- (8) Heat vs. (9) Thunder
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?!?! It wouldn't be the first time for KD and Kyrie to change their minds... As fate would have it, we have 8 Eastern and 8 Western teams in the top 16 right now. The biggest issue with voting in a 1-16 playoff format is that most years, it would mean the West would have more teams in the playoffs than the East.
There's no way the owners from the Eastern Conference vote for a proposition that reduces their chances to get some playoff revenue. Maybe we get to a compromise solution where the top 8 teams from both conferences get in and then are ranked according to their record. But, that's a discussion for another day.
For now, we'll take NBA from Orlando in any form. More details will come in the following days, and a final confirmation after the Board of Governors call on Friday.