As various scenarios disperse regarding how the NBA could return for an adjusted 2019-20 season, the league’s worst remain an intriguing question. Why should teams like the Knicks, Warriors, and the other non-contenders who are operating at a loss, return for 17 games? Injuries, liabilities and other uncertainties inspired some executives to call for the season’s cancellation last week.
Reports since CNBC‘s about those executives affirmed the NBA is actively attempting to resume play. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers joined CLNS Media’s “Cedric Maxwell Podcast” this week, privy to an NBA plan that addresses the non-contenders. Rivers shared the format that would eliminate the teams with roughly 17 games left and nothing to play for, giving those close to the playoff picture a wild card.
“Seven, eight, nine and ten (seeds) have a playoff, to get in the playoffs,” Rivers said. “While they’re playing, one through six can train.”
The east’s clear hierarchy — where the 76ers stood 8.5 games over the Nets, who finished only 7.5 above the 10-seed Hornets — fits this strategy. Play-in and mid-season tournament discussions circulated when ratings dipped and the NBA pondered ideas to jump-start interest. The plans reemerged out of necessity, to completely restart the league.
Rivers pointed out that the play-in tournament gives those lower-seeded teams in-game reps that his Clippers wouldn’t receive until round one. That dynamic, along with possibly condensed series without travel, could introduce extra parity into 2020 results. Certain portions could become precedent for a new playoff model.
Among LA’s first-round options: the Mavericks, Grizzlies, Trailblazers and Pelicans.
“It doesn’t look like we’re going to have fans,” Rivers said. “That’s unusual. I don’t even know how that would work. The only thing I jokingly told the league is you better put earmuffs on the refs. Half the time they don’t hear the stuff we’re saying, now they’ll hear everything? Everybody’s getting thrown out.”