A month ago initial reports came out about the possibility of drastic changes coming to the NBA. From a shortened regular season, re-seeding during the playoffs and even an in-season tournament as early as the 2021 season, a lot was mentioned.
While there weren’t specific details about all of the changes at the time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has an update about one proposed idea, the in-season tournament.
The big takeaway from the latest update is that the NBA seems to really be pushing for a 30-team tournament during the regular season. How do they expect to intrigue teams, and more specifically players, to get on board? Money, of course.
The NBA is discussing a $1 million per player purse for the winners of the proposed 30-team, in-season tournament, league sources told ESPN.
The league is hopeful that an additional financial incentive would motivate players to treat a new tournament with a competitive fervor.
The NBA wants an in-season tournament that would begin with pool-play as part of the regular season schedule before the teams with best records advance to an eight-team single-elimination tournament that would culminate in mid-December, league sources said.
The average NBA player makes right around $9 million per year. With that being said, for players like LeBron James and Russell Westbrook who make over $35 million per season, an extra $1 million wouldn’t automatically get them up for the possible mid-season tournament.
Some team executives are skeptical that would be the case. Among the concerns of top front office officials discussing these ideas with the league office: Many suspect that star players might prefer the five-day scheduling break that would come with not qualifying for the tournament rather than competing for the financial reward of a winner-take-all event that requires a quarterfinal, semifinal and title round to become champion.
As for the exact structure of the tournament, which would likely happen post-Thanksgiving, the pre-knockout games would be a part of the regular season. With that being the case, it’s safe to say that even the game’s biggest stars would at least be up for those games with more on the line.
For the in-season tournament, the NBA is focused on 30-team participation that begins with a divisional group stage of scheduled regular-season games.
Those pre-knockout-round games would be part of the regular-season schedule. Six divisional winners — based on home and road records in the group stage — and the two teams with the next-best records would advance to a single-elimination knockout round, league sources said.
The NBA needs two-thirds of the teams (23) and NBPA to agree to the calendar changes, which commissioner Adam Silver hopes would begin with the league’s 75th anniversary season in the 2021-22 season
The NBA still puts out a great product both in the regular season, and certainly in the playoffs, but for most people, it’s NBA Twitter and the offseason that bring forth the most drama in the league. Perhaps this in-season tournament will add a little spice to the regular-season slate.