Change is inevitable. Whether it’s a playoff recalibration or an in-season tournament, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is looking for an update according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Any rule changes the NBA makes, whether it’s reducing the schedule to 78 games, having a play-in to get into the postseason or reseeding the playoffs based on record and not conference, needs NBPA approval and wouldn’t take place until 2021-22, the league’s 75th anniversary season.
There is a lot to be hashed out between now and then. A long list of items could get pared down to one or two major changes, or the league could go for broke and see what works and what doesn’t.
One of the more interesting items on the list that might affect the Kings is the potential for a play-in series to get into playoffs.
According to Wojnarowski, teams with the seventh and eighth-best records in each conference would battle to see who gets the seventh seed. At the same time, a second game would take place between the ninth and tenth place teams. The loser of the seventh-eighth game would then play the winner of the ninth/tenth game to see who would land the eighth seed in the playoffs.
Under this design, the Kings actually would have had an opportunity to make the postseason last year. They finished with a record of 39-43 and would have faced off with Luke Walton’s Los Angeles Lakers. The winner of that game would have gone on to play the loser of a game between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.
It’s an interesting concept that might have actually led to better basketball by the Kings and other teams down the stretch of the season. Would Minnesota have fought to catch the Lakers or the Kings? Would LeBron James have sat out seven of the final eight games for LA? Would Dave Joerger have pulled his starters in the second half of the team’s final game of the season in Portland?
Major League Baseball has a similar play-in setup in which two wild-card teams play a single game to see which advances to the playoffs. After 162 baseball games, it hardly feels right to watch everything come down to one game, but it might work in basketball.
A playoff play-in could also solve at least some of the league’s issues with tanking. Teams would be incentivized to at least try to stick in the race down the stretch, although there likely would still be a group that is eliminated early from playoff contention.
All of these proposed changes are intriguing. It’s hard to project whether they might impact a future season for the Kings, but if there is a chance of increasing a postseason berth for the team, owner Vivek Ranadivé and his group should vote yes when all of this comes up at the board of governors meetings.