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One proposal from a couple of team employees: Guarantee the winning team a playoff spot. That's interesting. It doesn't really impact the elite teams. Some ultra-tankers might not even want a playoff spot if it removes them from the lottery. (They probably wouldn't want to turn off their fans by tanking the midseason tournament, either.) How would clinching a playoff spot in December change behavior over the rest of the season for a middling playoff team?
Teams have been formally proposing schedule tweaks for years. At least one has advocated for a 58-game schedule, with each team playing every other team twice. (Even the proposing team knows that is too radical right now.) One Eastern Conference executive submitted a proposal that in its own way includes midseason and play-in tournaments: a 62-game regular season, after which teams are placed into three tiers based on their record in those 62 games. Teams then play 18 games within their tier -- facing each team home and away -- bringing the season to 80 games.
But it’s unclear what incentives will be in the final proposal; virtually any idea you can imagine has been discussed and debated during meetings. Clarity will come soon—there are only five months to go before the Board of Governors meeting in April, when votes will take place. Sources confirmed a high-ranking source who told ESPN that there’s been “no real pushback” from teams and players for the tournament. But there’s certainly concern about whether it could be a flop financially or struggle to draw ratings. Still, multiple front-office executives have gone as far as to say change is inevitable—it’s just a matter of the form it takes.
The NBA could also change locations of the tournament each year, like the NCAA does for March Madness or the NFL does with the Super Bowl. “The in-season tournament can be the way to bring competitive basketball to cities without a team like Seattle or Mexico City or even London,” one front-office executive said. The NBA already plays annual regular-season games in Mexico and Europe; additionally, in January 2020, the Bucks will face the Hornets in Paris. Without a neutral site, scheduling would become a nightmarish task. Arenas are already frustrated with having to hold so many open dates for potential postseason games; adding two tournaments would require them to have even more open dates, league sources said.
Steve Popper: Pop on possible NBA changes: Whatever they do, they do. I have bigger fish to fry. Mr. Silver will work at that stuff and do his best job with all his colleagues. And I will offer no advice because they’re a lot smarter than me. And I don’t want any out of bounds plays from him.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks coach David Fizdale says he supports whatever changes the NBA ends up making to its season and schedule, and calls commish Adam Silver innovative. "In-season tournament?" Fizdale said. "Every game is an in-season tournament to me. We're fighting for our life every night."
The NBA is engaged in serious discussions with the National Basketball Players Association and broadcast partners on sweeping and dramatic changes to the league calendar that would include a reseeding of the four conference finalists, a 30-team in-season tournament and a postseason play-in, league sources told ESPN. These scenarios would include the shortening of the regular season to a minimum of 78 games, league sources said.
Discussions are progressing with hopes of bringing a vote to the April meeting of the league's Board of Governors that would introduce some -- if not all -- of these proposals into the NBA's 75th anniversary season of 2021-22, league sources said. The NBA still has work to do coordinating with constituents on the myriad implications involving the proposed changes. The reseeding of teams in the semifinal round based on regular-season record could give the NBA a championship series that includes its best two teams. The WNBA has been seeding teams in the playoffs without regard to conference for several seasons.
In proposals that include adoption of in-season tournaments and post-season play-in, the traditional regular season schedule would be reduced from 82 games -- with most teams scheduled to play 78 or 79 games. There's an extremely limited possibility of a team playing a maximum of 83 games based on on possible tournament and play-in scenarios, league sources said. For the in-season tournament, the NBA is focused on 30-team participation that begins with a divisional group stage of scheduled regular-season games. Those pre-knockout round games will be part of the regular-season schedule. Six divisional winners -- based on home and away records in the group stage -- and teams with the next two best records would advance to a single-elimination knockout round, league sources said. Those teams could each potentially compete in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
The NBA and NBPA are finding common ground on a post-Thanksgiving tournament window that would extend into mid-December, league sources said. Months ago, the NBA had proposed a late January-February tournament that would culminate with a Final Four during All-Star weekend, sources said. That idea faded fast. Both the union and team executives expressed concern over that idea. The NBPA was resistant to shortening players' All-Star breaks and requiring some to potentially participate in the in-season tournament and All-Star weekend.
The 2019-20 NBA schedule was unveiled Monday, featuring a record 48 games starting at prime time for Europe (afternoon start times in North America, prime time for European time zones). The new season will see 24 games tip off during European prime time on Sundays and, for the first time ever, 24 games on Saturdays.
Ian Begley: The Nets play at Golden State on March 12. New Net Kevin Durant would be roughly nine months removed from surgery to repair his torn right Achilles at that point. Brooklyn opens its season at home against Minnesota on Oct. 23. D’Angelo Russell & GSW come to Brooklyn on Feb. 5.
The Knicks’ home opener will take place Saturday, Oct. 26 vs. the revamped Celtics at the Garden, The Post has learned. The immediate Celtics visit means ex-Knick center Enes Kanter will make an early Garden return. It also will give new Knicks forward Marcus Morris, who played for the Celtics, a chance to go against his former club.
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September 23, 2021 | 11:46 am EDT Update
Though it doesn’t look good right now, the Sixers continue to insist that their preferred outcome at this point is to bring Simmons back and try to work through this. Embiid has publicly stumped for Simmons and privately insisted they can turn this around if they simply get him back in the gym and around the team. Rivers does not believe this will be an issue in the locker room, using an example from his own playing days to show these situations can be rectified. “The San Antonio Spurs traded Sean Elliott,” Rivers said. “You remember that? Traded him to Detroit, he failed the physical, didn’t want to come back, came back and they won the championship the next year, so these things can happen.”
Storyline: Ben Simmons Trade?
“That may be where he’s at today, that may not be where he’s at tomorrow. You just don’t know, and that’s why we got to keep communicating and see where we can take this,” Rivers said. “He has four years left on his contract, it’s in our hands…once we get him back in the fold, then we can get to work. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t have an expectation. Because I don’t know where we would go. That will happen if it happens, but right now Ben is still part of this team, and I’m gonna focus on that part of it.”
Yossi Gozlan: The Pelicans ended up operating over the cap after clearing a lot of money in their trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. While they couldn’t get an All-Star caliber player with their flexibility, they might have better fits on their team now that they have more shooting to surround Williamson. They could be primed for a significant in-season trade with many young players, draft picks and tradeable salaries in their arsenal. Satoransky and Josh Hart could be particularly expendable due to New Orleans’ glut of guards, with Hart being an intriguing name to keep an eye on due to his unique salary structure.
Yossi Gozlan: Robinson is currently eligible for an extension worth up to $55.6 million over four years. Since the Knicks exercised his team option for this season, he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. This could incentivize them to extend him before the end of the season. A two-year deal that aligns his contract with the rest of the core could make sense. The Knicks won’t be losing any cap space since they’re capped out until at least 2023. They also must decide whether or not to extend Kevin Knox before the start of the regular season.
Storyline: Mitchell Robinson Extension?
Ownership was made aware of Rosas’ transgressions with the staffer when team officials were provided with photographic evidence of their connection, sources said. It seems few if any in Minnesota and around the league had general knowledge of Rosas’ relationship until Wednesday, when the news quickly spread throughout the organization, and to rival team personnel, like wildfire. Rosas and the woman, each of whom is married, were seen kissing in a suite during a Minnesota United FC game last Saturday at Allianz Field​​, sources said. The soccer club was told to reserve luxury seating for several Timberwolves players and personnel, including assistant coach Pablo Prigioni. Two seats were filled by Rosas and the staffer.
Those pictures have been obtained by Bleacher Report. One photograph is a close-up shot, clearly showing Rosas and the woman sitting beside one another in light blue cushioned seats, behind the suite’s protective plexiglass. A second photograph follows, where the two have leaned towards one another for a romantic embrace. Minnesota’s statement announcing Rosas’ departure provided no further context behind its decision, and as word of his affair swirled around the league Wednesday, several executives noted how Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor did not thank Rosas for his time atop the team’s basketball department, as is customary in the business.
Storyline: Timberwolves Front Office
The revelation of Rosas’ relationship comes after a series of tense staffing dynamics within his front office, and a level of discontent from some Timberwolves staffers pertaining to Rosas’ leadership style, which has been described as isolationist. Any lead executive is privy to make final basketball decisions as they see fit, but several Minnesota figures told B/R they were dissatisfied by Rosas’ penchant for disregarding consultations from his front office.