The four scenarios the NBA is considering to resume play
We are just 60 days from the anticipated and likely return date to resume play for the NBA.
On last Friday’s conference call with owners, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly laid out four options to what the NBA could look like once play resumes:
- 16 teams: Directly to playoffs
- 20: Group/stage play
- 22: Games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for final seed(s)
- 30: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney
On Thursday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is going to have to make a recommendation and get everyone to line up behind it, something the owners and players will do.
Swipe through to see the four options as well as a break down of each from NBC Sports’ Pro Basketball Talk Kurt Helin:
GO DIRECTLY TO PLAYOFFS
16 teams going directly into playoffs.
This is the cleanest, most straightforward option, and it has support from a number of owners, according to Helin. It keeps the number of people in the bubble relatively small, making it easier to maintain the safety of players, coaches, staff, and everyone involved. The league likely would keep the traditional conference format rather than go to 1-16 seeding.
If this option were voted on, the Portland Trail Blazers’ (29-37) season would officially be over as they are 3.5 games behind the eight seed Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference.
A downside is this takes almost half the NBA’s markets and tells them “you’re done, no games from March until Christmas” (the expected date for the tip-off of next season, or maybe a week or two earlier).
WORLD CUP STYLE
20 teams, group play for the first round.
This is the World Cup soccer idea, with four groups of five teams each and the top two teams in each group advancing to the playoffs. Some fans and teams backed this idea because it provided a bit of randomness to the mix — soccer sees a lot of upsets in this format. On the flip side, the top teams were not fans of this plan for the same reason.
The buzz around the league is this format is basically dead to the owners.
LIMITED TEAMS, FINISH REGULAR SEASON
22 teams with regular season games to determine seeding, followed by a play-in tournament to the 16-team playoffs.
The idea is the 22 teams — all teams within six games off the last playoff spot in each conference would play eight regular season games, then standings at the end of those games would set up the play-in tournament for the eighth seed. After that, the playoffs would start.
EAST: Washington Wizards
WEST: Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns
A few points to note: there will be a few “meaningless games” in this format as well as bring more teams into the bubble, creating more risk.
FINISH THE REGULAR SEASON
30 teams, a regular season to get to 72 games, then a play-in tournament followed by the playoffs.
This is the idea to “finish” the regular season. Silver is going to get lobbied all week by different factions backing different plans, but by next Thursday he has to pick a one he can sell to owners and to players. There are no good options, he has to choose the least bad one.
“We’re not going to waste time on it because my sources, and those of other reporters, have called this one dead on arrival,” says Helin.
Owners are largely planning to pledge support for Silver's final recommendation on a plan, which teams expect to include invitations for 20-to-22 teams to resume the season, sources tell Ramona Shelburne, Zach Lowe and Helin.