At the beginning fo the week, we heard reports that the NBA is pushing to get a deal done today. The Board of Governors has a meeting, and Adam Silver wanted to get an agreement done and start the slow process of returning to games. No such agreement will be reached today.
One of the hallmarks of Adam Silver’s tenure as commissioner is the wide range of consensus he’s been able to achieve on almost every major decision. A lot different than his predecessor, David Stern, Silver does a lot of listening and convincing before making a decision. Determining a format in which the 19/20 season will be finished will probably be the first time since Silver’s the commish that a consensus won’t be possible. Everyone agrees you need a certain amount of games before the playoffs to let everyone get back in basketball shape.
The main issue here are the teams chasing the 8th seed in the West. The Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, and Spurs were all in the playoff hunt, 3.5 (Blazers, Pelicans, Kins) and 4 (Spurs) games back from the 8th seed Grizzlies. They all want an opportunity to make it to the playoffs. How do you give them that chance without overcomplicating everything? That’s still being ironed out. Whatever Silver decides, someone’s going to be unhappy. So what will be his ultimate criteria in making a decision? It’s a star-driven league, remember?
“Let me just say how do you get to 20 [teams], though?… I’ve already heard people in this league say this is an elaborate game to get Zion Williamson into this bubble. … I’m not saying the NBA is going this route; I’m just saying I’ve already heard this scenario that no matter what happens, the cutoff line will be the Pelicans. They’ll be in. It will be the first time in the history of the NBA that the league kicked the ball into the fairway for New Orleans.”Brian Windhorst, The Hoop Collective
Getting Zion in won’t be the main thing Silver will take into consideration. This whole situation provides an opportunity to test out a lot of new things that can become a part of the new NBA. Having a midseason and/or a play-in tournament, a World Cup style playoffs, and getting rid of conferences for seeding are all on the table. But, if one format gets Zion and the Pelicans in, and the other one doesn’t? It makes sense that it would tip the scale for Silver.
If ‘The Last Dance‘ reminded us of something, that’s that the NBA is a star-driven league. We talk about eras in terms of players, not teams. You had Bill and Wilt, then Larry and Magic, followed by MJ, LeBron, and Steph. If we have injury luck, Luka, Zion, and Ja are next in line to fight for titles and our affection.
That’s just how the cookie crumbles.