“We need to get to the playoffs this year,” point guard Elfrid Payton told Basketball Insiders earlier this month. “There’s no more time for, ‘Next year… Next year…’ The time is now. We need to step up our games and be ready to play.”
Portland got the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference last season by winning the Northwest Division, but the Trail Blazers would have been seeded sixth by win-loss record. That sparked new calls to throw out the protection for division winners, and Silver said after the owners’ annual summer meeting in Las Vegas that change was coming, though they wanted more time before voting on it. “So while we’re going to continue to discuss it a little bit more — we need to make a decision before the preseason begins — I think the greater likelihood is we will not be guaranteeing a spot to a division winner,” he said Wednesday. The Utah Jazz are working on making changes to their logo this offseason or next. The change wouldn’t take effect until the 16-17 season at the earliest.
“First of all, it’s never happened before that a division winner did not finish within the top eight, and our basketball analytics folks calculate that there’s less than a 5 percent chance that it would happen,” he said before taking part in a panel discussion at the “Beyond Sport United” program. “Where we are leaning right now is that we would not guarantee a spot for a division winner in part because it’s so unlikely to happen, and No. 2 if it does happen it would be potentially confusing to fans. No. 3, you would be displacing a team that did have a top-eight record.”
The NBA’s competition committee closely examined the league’s playoff seeding procedures on Monday, potentially paving the way for a change to the rule that currently gives a top-four seed to a division winner regardless of record, league sources told CBSSports.com. The Board of Governors, which meets Tuesday, will be updated on the discussion, though it’s possible that a specific change won’t be recommended to the Board for a vote until October, a person familiar with the discussions said.
As part of the discussion about whether a division winner should automatically qualify for a top-four seed, the committee also examined whether a division winner should get a tiebreak over a non-division winner with a better record. No consensus was reached on the issue, sources said. This season, Portland received the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference by winning the Northwest Division with 51 victories. The Blazers were seeded higher than the Grizzlies (No. 5) and Spurs (No. 6), who each won 55 games.
The committee, made up of owners, general managers and coaches, also discussed a variety of rules and instant replay procedures, including the so-called Hack-a-Shaq rule. No consensus was reached on those issues, or on possible changes to the free-agent moratorium — a waiting period between free-agent commitments and contract signings. Last week, Clippers free agent DeAndre Jordan committed to sign with Dallas during the moratorium, only to change his mind and re-sign with LA when the signing period began on July 9.