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NBA Roundup: Mark Cuban Proposes Play-In Tournament for Final 2 Playoff Seeds

We check in on the latest news around the league.

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The NBA is ramping up its efforts to somehow save the 2019-20 season after suspending play in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week the league confirmed that it is in talks with Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, about hosting games should the season resume. Let’s take a look at recent news around the league:

  • Shams Charania of The Athletic says the NBA is working on multi-phase medical and safety guidelines ahead of league play possibly resuming. Charania notes that in-market training camps are projected to start in July before progressing towards the season’s restart:

Conversations have centered on the timing of family arrivals at Walt Disney World Resort, which are likely to start once an initial wave of teams are eliminated and the number of people within the league’s bubble decreases, sources said.

Additionally, they say that the NBA is “considering” play-in possibilities that include up 24 teams.

  • Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has proposed a play-in tournament if the league resumes play, as detailed by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Cuban’s plan involves all 30 teams playing enough games to fulfill local TV contracts (which requires each team to have played 70 games total). Then, a play-in tournament would follow to determine the last two playoff seeds:

In Cuban’s proposal, the top 10 teams from each conference would qualify for the postseason and be reseeded based on record. There would be two play-in matchups — either single games or a best-of-three series — pitting seeds 17 vs. 20 and 18 vs. 19. The winners would advance to play the 15th and 16th seeds for the final spots in the playoff bracket.

Cuban highlights that every team except two (the Timberwolves and Warriors) would have a mathematical possibility of qualifying for the playoffs in his proposed format.

Late Friday night, the league office sent a survey to all 30 general managers asking for their feedback on several different formats to restart the season. One proposal is to replace the first round of the playoffs with a “group stage” in which the 20 teams with the best records would be placed into four groups of five teams. Teams would play two games against each opponent in their own group, and the teams with the two best records from each group would qualify for the second round of the playoffs. Eight teams would advance, and then teams would play seven-game series to determine the champion.

However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes that “several” would-be playoff teams are pushing back on the idea of group play:

Several current postseason teams were not initially enthusiastic about that proposal, sources told Lowe. A slump in group play could result in what is currently a solid playoff team — even one slated for home-court advantage in the first round of a normal postseason — failing to advance into the eight-team tournament, while a present-day lottery team might get hot and make the final eight.

  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is set to talk with the league’s Board of Governors on Friday. The call isn’t expected to yield a finalized return-to-play plan as the league is still discussing three serious options, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
  • As a result of the league suspending play, Marc Stein of The New York Times says some teams are expecting the NBA Draft to be held in September, with NBA Free Agency starting as late as Oct. 1:

Stay tuned to Blazer’s Edge as we continue to cover the league’s discussions about resuming play.