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Adam Silver may borrow a page from European soccer to fill out the NBA postseason.
The league reportedly surveyed general managers on Friday about possible formats for the remainder of the season, with a group stage in place of the opening round of the playoffs being one option.
In that scenario, 20 teams would be separated into five tiers based on the current regular-season standings, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. From there, four groups of five teams would be drawn by selecting one side from each tier. The top two clubs in each group - eight total - would then advance to play the traditional seven-game playoff series.
The league is reportedly mulling exactly how to select teams from each tier. Groups could be randomly drawn, as it's done in soccer for the European championships and international tournaments, though the NBA is also considering allowing the top teams in the first tier to select their own group, sources told O'Connor.
That would mean the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Toronto Raptors would choose their own opponents.
The NBA is also considering capping each group at no more than three Western Conference teams as one method to balance the competition, sources told O'Connor.
However, not every team is in favor of a potential group stage, as some Eastern Conference organizations have pushed back at the suggestion, O'Connor reports.
The league has confirmed that talks are underway to resume the suspended season at Disney World in late July. However, a format for the remainder of the campaign has yet to be decided.
Proceeding straight to the playoffs with the current standings is reportedly on the table, though a postseason play-in tournament for the lower seeds was also suggested as a possibility in Friday's survey.