It is becoming more and more clear that the NBA will be returning to play at some point this year. The question now is how the league will return and what is the best way to do so, as there are a ton of options for the league to finish out this season.
One of the primary questions the NBA faces is whether or not to play a handful of exhibition or regular-season games before beginning the playoffs, or if they should go straight to a postseason.
If the league does elect to return to the court with the playoffs, options range from keeping the traditional format to re-seeding Nos. 1-16 without conference being a factor.
And what about the teams who were on the playoff bubble? Should there be some sort of play-in tournament as teams just a game or two out of the playoffs would be robbed of their chance to make a run.
These are just some of the things that must be worked out between NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the teams around the league, and the players. Much has been made of Silver’s recent talks with players, but he has also been speaking with the general managers across the league.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, half of the GMs voted on a preference to resume the season with the playoffs, and the majority also supported a bracket based on seeding teams 1 through 16:
Half of the league’s general managers voted to go straight to the playoffs and cancel the rest of the regular season, sources said. Just over half of the league voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16 without factoring in conference affiliation.
As for the other potential options, general managers seem to be far more in favor of a play-in tournament as opposed to the completely outside-the-box idea of a group stage:
About 75 percent of teams voted in favor of a play-in tournament, sources said, while 25 percent of teams voted in favor of the group stage.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put the NBA in a position it has never been in and gives Silver and the league the opportunity to try out different things. Going straight to the playoffs would make some teams unhappy, but could be the best option for the timeframe the league is under to finish out this season.
Additionally, a 1-16 seeding regardless of conference could benefit the Los Angeles Lakers as it would put the other two main championship contenders, the Milwaukee Bucks and L.A. Clippers, on the same side of the bracket as the Nos. 1 and 4 seed respectively, with the Toronto Raptors in third.
A play-in tournament would undoubtedly appease a number of teams who are just outside of the playoffs, which is likely why so many GMs would be in favor of it. Teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans would have a shot at the playoffs which they obviously would prefer.
The group stage idea would be something unheard of in the NBA, but would drum up a ton of attention worldwide. The GMs don’t seem to be nearly as much in favor of something so brand new however which apparently includes the Lakers and Bucks, perhaps because such a thing could get rid of the advantage that the teams would normally have as the best records.
Whatever the decision ultimately becomes, the league is exploring every option to figure out the best way to return and finish out the season and it will be on the NBA, the teams, and the players to come to an agreement on how to best come together.