Parsing through the regular season and playoff seeding changes the NBA, NBAPA and broadcast partners are reportedly discussing

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Parsing through the regular season and playoff seeding changes the NBA, NBAPA and broadcast partners are reportedly discussing

By now, you may have seen the reporting from ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski, detailing possible landmark changes to the NBA’s regular season schedule and playoff seeding structure

The proposals in the report are extensive and, frankly, a lot to parse through. Here’s an attempt to cut through the jargon and lay out exactly what the NBA, NBAPA and broadcast partners are reportedly discussing:

So, what’s being proposed exactly?

Three things, and we’ll deal with them chronologically, as they would occur in an NBA season.

  1. A 30-team regular season tournament, towards the beginning of the season.

  2. A (separate) postseason play-in tournament between each conference’s 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds — at the end of the season.

  3. The reseeding of the final four teams remaining in the playoffs, independent of conference or geography.

Let’s take them one-by-one:

30-team regular season tournament

According to Lowe and Wojnarowski, the in-season tournament would involve every team in the NBA and would take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. That time frame was reportedly agreed to for two reasons. One: It doesn’t interfere with the league’s trade deadline or buyout/waiver window, when rosters change dramatically. And two: It limits competition for eyeballs with other sports (e.g. NFL playoffs, CFP championship) at their time of highest interest.

The tournament would be multi-stage (i.e. Group Stage → Knockout Round → Quarters/Semis/Finals), with each stage being built into the regular season schedule. Players and coaches would reportedly receive compensation for advancing through this tournament, to mitigate against a lack of interest in competing.

Postseason play-in tournament

This is something that’s been hypothesized by much of the NBA cognoscenti for a couple years now to de-incentivize tanking, and it’s a tantalizing prospect. Instead of the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference being decided purely by regular season record, this proposal introduces two four-team tournaments to decide the final two seeds in each conference.

Those tournaments would go like this: the No. 7 seed would host the No. 8 seed, witht the winner getting the No. 7 seed. The loser of that game would play the winner of a game between the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds, with the winner of that game earning the No. 8 seed.

Make this happen, now.

Reseeding of the final four teams

The idea of reseeding the entire NBA playoffs 1-16 — as opposed to 1-8 in each conference — has also been discussed often in recent years, given the competitive imbalance between the Eastern and Western Conferences.

This proposal represents something of a compromise. Under it, teams would play through the play-in tournament and first two rounds of the postseason as normal. But, when only four teams remain, those four teams would be reseeded completely based off regular season record, potentially ensuring that the two best teams meet in the Finals and not the conference finals (*dollar signs intensify*).

Imagine this being the law of the land during the 2018 playoffs, for example. Instead of the Warriors and Rockets squaring off in the Western Conference Finals and the Cavaliers and Celtics in the East, those four teams would have been reseeded as such:

(1) Houston Rockets vs. (4) Cleveland Cavaliers

(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (3) Boston Celtics

The NBA would certainly have preferred the Warriors and Rockets having their epic seven-game showdown from that season in the Finals, as opposed to the sweep the Warriors dealt the Cavs. (And Rockets-Cavs would have been a damn fun series, to boot.)

So, how many games will each team play in a given season?

It depends on how they fare in the regular season and play-in tournaments. According to Lowe and Wojnarowski, teams would play a minimum of 78 regular season games and a maximum of 83. In terms of number of games played, the postseason schedule would presumably remain the same.

And when might these changes be implemented — if at all?

According to Lowe and Wojnarowski, the league is working hard to reach a solid agreement before the board of governors convenes in April, with the goal of implementing these changes in the 2021-22 season.

On the feasibility of all of this coming to fruition, the report closes with: “Talks are ongoing, but serious traction is emerging for dramatic change for the future of the NBA.”

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Don't worry, ESPN's First Take would be happy to discuss the Tom Brady-to-the-Bears speculation

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Don't worry, ESPN's First Take would be happy to discuss the Tom Brady-to-the-Bears speculation

You know it's been a bad week when a players-only meeting to clear the air isn't even the lowest point. You get thumped by the Saints' backup offense at home, say what you need to say, and move on to beating a Chargers team that's similarly desperate, right? Wrong! So wrong! The low point this week came when someone at ESPN assigned a whole block of First Take to discussing the Bears' quarterback issues.

The episode featured speculation about Tom Brady's future with the Patriots beyond 2019. Stephen A. Smith thinks the 42-year-old is going to Tennessee?

 Then, with a deft touch that few in the industry can match, Kellerman found himself at this conclusion, immediately. 

"That’s a team with tradition, only one Super Bowl, always been missing a quarterback. They have an offensive-minded head coach and a vicious defense. 

.. What team makes the most sense? Do you believe in Trubisky? I do not. If I were the Bears and I thought I was ready to win now, I’d grab Brady for a season."

It's a fine opinion! First Take isn't trying to hide what it is, and Kellerman wouldn't be on the show if he wasn't aware and on-board with the style of punditry his (many) viewers are looking for. Be careful what you wish for, Bears fans; he loves himself some Brady Takes. You all nod enthusiastically now, but when Tom only throws 21 times (Nagy ran the ball!!) next October in a loss to the Lions, Kellerman's not going to be making any friends in Chicago. 

This is why people invest so much time and money into quarterback development. You roll the dice on someone and if it goes well, awesome! And if it doesn't go well, it affects every phase of your football team and you have to hear about it in the tire shop waiting room. 

Joe Maddon calls Alex Rodriguez 'irresponsible" in radio interview

Joe Maddon calls Alex Rodriguez 'irresponsible" in radio interview

Joe Maddon joined Dan Bernstein and Conor McKnight on their 670 the Score show Tuesday afternoon, speaking candidly about Alex Rodriguez accusing the Cubs clubhouse of not being supportive of Yu Darvish during his rehab process. 

"I was really shocked by the whole diatribe, in a sense a soliloquy," Maddon said. "It really came off to me as plastic and probably rehearsed in advance. It was definitely a contrived situation. That part of it, I didn't really like either. Beyond the substance, it was definitely not extemporaneous. And that really is a concern too. Because if you walk into our locker (room) trying to substantiate something, you've already made up your mind to do that. That's kind of bothersome. These (national broadcasters), they see us two or three times here. They're not in the presence of all of our guys. They really have no business making those kinds of comments. So having said all that, for me, it's not about empowering Alex. I do not want to do that whatsoever." 

Maddon continued to go through his frustrations with Rodriguez, saying the former Yankee stars' comments "contaminated" their clubhouse. 

"Because I think that's what he's looking for -- is empowerment. And the other part is from our perspective, nobody contaminates our state. You as an individual should not permit it, we as a group are not going to permit it. We have a very tightly knit group. These guys are wonderful. They interest so well together, not only among themselves but also coaches, front office, etc. It's a very tightly knit group. So when you attempt to come into our sanctum and say or make those kinds of comments in a predetermined negative way, I don't take kindly to that."

The Cubs skipper assured Darvish that everyone in the clubhouse understands he is recovering from an injury, as the 31-year-old continues to rehab from an elbow impingement. 

"We wanted to reassure Yu that none of that is true," said Maddon. "Yu needs to know that, coming into the situation he has and not being able to perform based on an injury. It's very difficult. It's very difficult to be that guy when you're walking around and you got something wrong and you know you want to be out there. You know you can help, and it's tough. It's very tough mentally on that person. So my desire is this goes away today."

The interview ended with Maddon given one last bit of advice to Rodriguez and how comments like these can ruin a reputation - which was a tad bit ironic talking about a guy who lied about PED use. 

"What I just said to you illustrates exactly how I feel about this. It's one of those situations that a guy like him (Rodriguez) has to be careful because now he can really sully his reputation in other clubhouses based on this irresponsible moment."

And to that point, Anthony Rizzo was on David Kaplan's ESPN 1000's show discussing Darvish, saying he liked "having him around." 

A response like this was expected from Joe Maddon and the Cubs, especially after the integrity of their locker room was put into question. It's safe to assume Alex Rodriguez will not be greeted with warm welcomes the next time he steps foot in the Cubs clubhouse.