While nothing is set in stone, the NBA appears to be moving towards restarting its season sometime in the next few months. The question that exists — beyond all the various concerns about making sure that players, coaches, staffers, and everyone else involved stay healthy — is what a return to play would look like? Would the league hope to finish an 82-game regular season before embarking on a full postseason, or would it have to do some kind of truncated regular season/playoff?
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the NBA is trying to get a sense of what would be the best path forward. Charania reports that the league sent surveys to all 30 general managers with the hopes of getting their thoughts on what would work best, even if their sense is that “the league’s ultimate decision-making power remains in the hands of commissioner Adam Silver and the Board of Governors, as well as the players.”
The surveys come after a call on Thursday, one that included more conversations between Silver and general managers about things like testing and how a bubble league would function. As for the survey, it featured questions about how many regular season games would be played, when the season would end, and what it will look like when the league returns.
The two most straightforward approaches are bringing the entire league back or jumping right to the playoffs. There’s also the option of tacking a play-in tournament at the end of the regular season to figure out the final playoff seeds. Most interestingly, there is a “Playoff Plus” option, which would look like this:
Expanding the number of teams with the opportunity to play, either through holding a play-in tournament to determine the final seed(s) in playoffs, to be played by “bubble teams” or replacing the first round of the playoffs with a group stage.
Included in the survey would be the preference on the number of teams that come back in a “Playoff Plus” field, with the options being 18, 20, 22, and 24. Figuring out the best way to proceed is certainly going to be difficult, as there are dozens upon dozens of factors that need to be weighed. At the very least, we can probably assume that the league will leave no stone unturned in this endeavor.