One of the biggest issues for the last few years in the NBA has been the idea of tanking. Commissioner Adam Silver is trying to figure out any number of ways to curtail the problem and one of the ways is a change to the playoff system.
The the thinking behind the idea of a playoff play-in tournament is that if some teams feel like they have a legit chance at making the playoffs, they are less likely to tank down the stretch of the season.
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN there has been some discussion about a four team play-in tournament involving the seventh through 10th seeds in each conference:
The play-in proposal that has generated the most discussion, according to several sources: two four-team tournaments featuring the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th seeds in each conference. The seventh seed would host the eighth seed, with the winner of that single game nabbing the seventh spot, sources say. Meanwhile, the ninth seed would host the 10th seed, with the winner of that game facing the loser of the 7-versus-8 matchup for the final playoff spot.
The implementation of this tournament however, is not imminent as Lowe points out that there are some questions about the interest it would generate:
A play-in would require collective bargaining with the players’ union. There is also debate within the league about whether a play-in would inspire as much fan interest and hype as supporters hope. After all, we are talking mostly about .500-ish teams battling for the right to get destroyed by top seeds. In theory, revenue from a play-in tournament — or a midseason tournament — could ease the league toward slashing a few games from the 82-game schedule, but it is unclear any such tournament would rake in sufficient cash.
Shortening the schedule has been something else that some have talked about as a necessity for this league and a tournament could feasibly allow that to happen if the NBA could make the money back through it.
Once again, Silver is showing that no idea or big change to the league is above discussing. This tournament may not ever come to fruition, but the league is at least exploring ways to potentially increase excitement and competition in the NBA.
In his annual address during All-Star Weekend, Silver said the league was open to and had discussed the possibility of changing the playoff format to seeding Nos. 1 through 16, as opposed to simply the top eight from each conference.
Although there appear to be discussions on various options, it’s not believed change is imminent.
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