The NBA is reportedly considering a radical change to the playoffs that would include a play-in tournament

  • The NBA is seriously considering a play-in tournament for the last seeds in the playoffs.
  • However, there are still a lot of details to be sorted out and negotiations that must take place before this idea becomes a reality.
  • A play-in tournament would ideally reduce tanking and make the last part of the NBA regular season more exciting.

A new report from NBA writer Zach Lowe indicates that the NBA is seriously considering a major change to its current playoff structure.

According to Lowe, the NBA is weighing the possibility of adding a play-in tournament to determine the lower seeds during the regular 16-team playoff bracket.

A playoff play-in is an idea that’s been popularised by sports media personality Bill Simmons. But this is one of the first indications that the idea has gone from an NBA internet fever dream to a serious possibility within league circles.

“Two specific proposals are circulating at the highest levels within teams and the league office,” wrote Lowe. “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”

Lowe also tempered excitement a tad by noting that any change to how playoff teams are determined, “falls behind the one-and-done rule and perhaps reseeding the playoffs 1-16 regardless of conference in the current reform pecking order.”

Plus, such a proposal would ultimately have to be approved by 23 of the league teams, which is obviously a tall order. The rule change would also have to be negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement with the players, according to Lowe. In other words, don’t expect a play-in tournament within the next couple of years.

In the big picture, this tournament is one of NBA’s ideas for combating tanking, an issue that will only become more prominent as the league’s regular season enters its home stretch. Such a tournament would, at least in theory, give teams in the middle of the lottery more reason to keep trying to win games as the season goes on, and also prevent teams from tanking out of the 7th or 8th seed and into the lottery.

Of course, as Lowe cautions, “The only way to eradicate tanking is a complete overhaul of how NBA teams acquire talent, and no one has the stomach for that.”

Another potential benefit mentioned by Lowe is that such a system could generate more interest in the late months of the NBA regular season, when the playoff picture usually starts to crystallize.

For more details on what a potential play-in tournament would look like and what the talks around the league are like regarding the idea, check out Lowe’s full report here.

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