NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants to give teams another trophy to play for during the season and has been looking to European soccer leagues for inspiration.
Though he warned the ideas are still "in the conceptual phase," Silver told Marc Stein of the New York Times that the league is looking at two types of potential tournaments. One would culminate in a Final Four during All-Star weekend, while the other would take place at the end of the season, providing teams on the outside with a second chance at making the playoffs.
"It's incumbent on me to constantly be looking at other organizations and seeing what it is we can do better and learn from them," Silver said. "In the case of European soccer, I think there is something we can learn from them.
"I also recognize I'm up against some of the traditionalists who say no one will care about that other competition, that other trophy, you create. And my response to that is, 'Organizations have the ability to create new traditions.' It won’t happen overnight."
In soccer leagues around the world, clubs compete simultaneously in their domestic competition and cup tournaments. In England, for example, being crowned Premier League champion is the highest goal, though teams will also compete in the FA Cup, a historic trophy with roots in the 1800s. Some countries, including England, also have a League Cup to play for; it's generally regarded as a lower priority by the bigger clubs, which affords smaller teams a greater opportunity to succeed.
Silver has previously discussed the possibility of a new in-season tournament, though the league's current 82-game regular-season schedule poses a roadblock. In order to alter the calendar, Silver would need the NBA and the players' union to agree to any changes, which could necessitate lengthy negotiations.
Still, the 57-year-old says he hopes to shake up the traditional blueprint as soon as the 2021-22 campaign - the NBA's 75th season.
"I'm looking at things from a fan standpoint," Silver said. "I'm looking at how to create the most exciting season and experience, especially in a rapidly changing media market where fans are in essence voting every day whether they want to watch your product.
"Another marker for me is that we're a few seasons away from our 75th anniversary. I think that milestone gives us a pillar around which to think about the history of the league and experiment - maybe just for the 75th anniversary - with some potential changes."