The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association, and broadcast partners are discussing major changes to the league's schedule, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe report.
Some concepts reportedly being considered include the possibility of reseeding teams at the conference finals stage, an in-season tournament, play-in postseason games, and decreasing the length of the regular season.
The league hopes to bring a vote to its Board of Governors in April with a plan to implement changes in time for the 2021-22 season.
Re-seeding teams after the conference semifinals would, in theory, make it more likely that the top two squads in the league meet in the Finals, rather than in the Conference Finals.
Last year, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors met in the Eastern Conference finals despite boasting the two best records in the 2018-19 regular season. Had reseeding been in place last spring, the Bucks would have faced the Portland Trail Blazers in one semifinal matchup, with the Raptors taking on the Golden State Warriors in the other.
An in-season tournament would reportedly include distinct phases: First, all 30 teams would take part in a divisional group stage, with the games being part of the regular season schedule. This would be followed by a knockout tournament stage featuring eight entrants: the top team in each division plus two wildcard entrants based on the best remaining records.
After initially considering the possibility of such an event occurring in January-February, the NBPA has reportedly been more receptive to a November-December configuration.
Play-in games for postseason berths would feature the No. 7-to-No.10 seeds in each conference. The seventh playoff berth would go to the winner of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game. The loser of that contest would face the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 game in a play-in game to determine the eighth playoff berth.
For example, last season, the seventh-ranked Orlando Magic would play the eighth-ranked Detroit Pistons for the No. 7 playoff seed. The loser of that game would then have faced the winner of a game between the ninth-ranked Charlotte Hornets and the 10th-ranked Miami Heat in a play-in game for the No. 8 playoff seed.
To accommodate the addition of an in-season tournament and play-in games, teams would play a minimum of 78 regular-season games and a maximum of 83 in uncommon circumstances.