If this sounds familiar, it is. The play-in tournament’s value became a full-fledged storyline in April when Luka Doncic and Mark Cuban griped about the new circumstances for 7-seeds in each conference. And there is indeed a shared sentiment among coaches and team executives contacted by Bleacher Report that a play-in structure where just the 8-seed battles the winner of the 9- and 10-seeds would be preferred to this current format—specifically the fact that 7-seeds will start the tournament by playing the 8-seed for their own rightful spot after 72 games. “What if the 7-seed has a four-game lead on 8? And now it’s gonna almost be like Game 7 of the Finals, win or go home? It’s not really fair,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “Anything can happen. And someone can get hurt.”
Duane Rankin: "So maybe they can figure out a way, if you're in the play-in tournament, and it's just kind of goofy, but it's the way my head works. If you make it into the playoffs, you start down a game or something like that." Monty Williams' play-in idea that'd reward 1-2 seeds. #Suns pic.twitter.com/3cbiXy5EYU
Dave McMenamin: LeBron James on the play-in tournament: "Whoever came up with that s--- needs to be fired"
Fred Katz: Scott Brooks says he loves the play-in tournament. Says he thinks it’s made the league more competitive and has helped with tanking: “Even if we weren’t in this position and we were at the fifth or sixth spot, I think you should try to make it as competitive as you can."
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on the play-in-tournament implications of tonight's game against the Mavericks: "If we were to win tonight, I think we'd have a realistic shot at catching Dallas because we'd have the tie-breaker."
The future of the play-in tournament, which was adopted on a one-year trial basis, is a huge key. But given the impact it’s already made, league sources expect easy approval to make it permanent. “Based on what we’ve seen in terms of team behavior the last few years—the competitiveness on the court and the competitiveness in the standings—we’re pleased with the early results of both the lottery change and the play-in tournament,” said Wasch.
According to Wasch, the biggest gap a team has overcome to make the playoffs, with 15 games left in a season, is four games. (It’s happened twice.) So the league is using that four-game gap as the gauge for “still in contention.” And when the league hit the 15-game mark last week, 24 teams were either firmly in the playoff field or, at worst, within four games of 10th place. Yes, league officials looked it up. And yes, they’re quite pleased with that stat—and with the rules changes that fostered it.
Melissa Rohlin: Coach Doc Rivers on the play-in format: "I love it," he said. "...I think it keeps more teams involved. I think it's a good change.
"I thought it was funny that Mark Cuban, who I absolutely love, pushed it," New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Not only did he vote for it, but he pushed it. And now that they’re sitting where they are, they don’t like it."
His parting shot shot at Cuban aside, Van Gundy preached the importance of adapting to the circumstances than worrying about the pros and cons of the play-in tournament format. “It doesn’t matter what I think,” Van Gundy said. “We’re trying to get in it. So what my own personal thing is on what they should or should not have done with that doesn’t even matter. I don’t think about it. We’re trying to get in it. So that’s what is important to me."
Or take the eight, nine and 10 seeds – Memphis, Golden State and San Antonio. The eight seed just has to win one play-in game and the ninth and 10th seeds has to win twice. It’s easy to see why those teams would rather end up in seventh or eighth place. “For us, it’s awesome,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “For the league, it creates a lot of excitement and competition. I know they’re studying that and they’ll figure out how that makes sense moving forward. But hopefully we give ourselves a great chance in the last 20 games to keep getting better and make a push for the playoffs.”
Josh Lewenberg: VanVleet on the play-in: "If we're not in it then it's stupid & it was a bad decision... But if somehow we make the play-in then obviously that type of mentality is not gonna work for you. I see both sides of it... I hope they make all the money they were looking to make off it"
So Steph Curry -- what do you think about the play-in format? "I like the opportunity that's in front of us," the two-time NBA MVP told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "We have an opportunity to make this season mean something down the stretch because of the play-in. The opportunity of peaking at the right time. I'm sure there are gonna be a lot of opinions on it, and we'll see how it plays out. But I'm with it."
Mark Medina: Rick Carlisle on Luka Doncic criticizing the play-in tournament & Mark Cuban expressing concerns about it to @Tim MacMahon:"Luka & Mark hade made strong statement about it. I don't see a need for a third." Carlisle added If we end up in the play-in, we'll embrace that challenge"
Joe Vardon: Condensed schedules and workloads are not things about which Tom Thibodeau would complain, but he said the NBA play-in format, so far, is good. 'I think a lot of teams being involved in important games, I think that’s good for the league.' @The Athletic
Anthony Slater: Draymond Green asked how much he's monitoring the play-in standings: "I saw that Luka don't like it, I saw that Mark Cuban don't like it. That's as much as I pay attention to the play-in standings."
Hours after Luka Doncic criticized the idea of the NBA's play-in tournament, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN that the concept is "an enormous mistake," especially due to this season's compressed schedule. "I get why the NBA is doing it," Cuban said in a series of messages to ESPN. "But if we are going to be creative because of COVID, we should go straight up 1-20 and let the bottom 4 play in. This is the year particularly to do it since the 10 games cut [from the normal 82-game schedule] were in conference.
"The worst part of this approach is that it doubles the stress of the compressed schedule. Rather than playing for a playoff spot and being able to rest players as the standings become clearer, teams have to approach every game as a playoff game to either get into or stay in the top 6 since the consequences, as Luka said, are enormous. So players are playing more games and more minutes in fewer days."
"In a regular season of 82 games where we aren't playing 30-plus games in 6 weeks, then it might have been OK," Cuban told ESPN. "But the compression of so many games into so few days makes this an enormous mistake. "If we had gone 1 to 16, with the top 12 in, it still would have been rough, but there would have been more separation between play-in and the top 12. This is a season where we have to rest high-usage players. We have no choice. And that can and will have consequences."
Count Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic among the critics of the NBA's play-in tournament concept. "I don't understand the idea of a play-in," Doncic said Monday after a 113-95 loss to the visiting Philadelphia 76ers, the Mavs' third defeat in four games. "You play 72 games to get into the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you're out of the playoffs. So I don't see the point of that."
Eddie Sefko: Great pregame quote by Gregg Popovich about the play-in games. "I give it no thought whatsoever at my age, because I have to pick and choose how I want to spend my thinking moments. And it wouldn’t matter what I think.”
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on Draymond Green's comments about not being motivated to play in a play-in game: "Well, it motivates me. ... I understand what Draymond is saying. After so many years of being a championship contender, it is tough to just be playing to make the play-in tournament."
The Jump: Draymond: "Fighting for play-in doesn't motivate me" #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #DubNation pic.twitter.com/sCFUH5hjvk
The Jump: Approach to new play-in scenario? "It's definitely different. We still want to get there because if you can be in that top 8, it gives you a better chance to get into the playoffs" - @De'Aaron Fox #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #SacramentoProud
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green says that he is not motivated by the NBA's new play-in games, despite the fact that his team currently sits in 9th place in the Western Conference -- squarely on the fringe of the league's reformatted playoff system. "To be honest with you, I don't go into these games thinking like, 'Man, we need to win these games to get to the playoffs,'" Green said after Thursday's 116-109 loss to the Miami Heat. "I hate f---ing losing, so when I step on the floor I want to win. But I'll be 100 percent honest with you, fighting for a play-in spot does not motivate me. We're in what, [9th]? Fighting for a [play-in] spot doesn't motivate me at all."
Green, who has won three NBA championships during his nine-year career with the Warriors, added that the idea of squeezing into the postseason isn't going to motivate him any more than not wanting to lose already does. "I want to win every game I play because I hate losing," he said. "That s--- really bothers me. So that's what motivates me, not fighting for some play-in spot."
Anthony Slater: Steph Curry: "I know for me and Draymond, we've tried to be conscious of the development but also the understanding we have a lot of growing to do and our leadership has to be consistent in that respect. Nobody has time to sulk. Just go out and hoop." pic.twitter.com/GrS1cCoEUK
The game schedules across TNT and ESPN for the final week of the regular season (May 10-16) will be determined at a later date in order to provide the most compelling matchups to a national audience leading into the NBA Play-In Tournament and the NBA Playoffs. In the final week of the regular season, TNT will present doubleheaders Tuesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 13, and ESPN will televise doubleheaders Wednesday, May 12 and Friday, May 14. ESPN will also air a game Sunday, May 16 on the final day of the regular season. TNT will tip off its coverage of the Second Half of the season Thursday, March 11 with a doubleheader as the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET) and the Golden State Warriors visit the LA Clippers (10 p.m. ET). ESPN will begin its Second Half coverage Sunday, March 14 when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Clippers (9 p.m. ET). On Monday, March 15, ESPN’s first doubleheader in the Second Half will feature the New York Knicks visiting the Nets (8 p.m. ET) and the Lakers taking on the Warriors in San Francisco (10:30 p.m. ET).
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Play-in Tournament still needs to be approved by the Board of Governors, but that is a formality, per sources: No. 7 and No. 8 seeds need to win once to stay in playoffs; No. 9 and No. 10 seeds need to win twice to move up into field. Tentative dates of event: May 17-21.
NBA and NBPA talks continue to include the likelihood of a play-in tournament for both the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs, a mechanism designed to incentivize more teams to aggressively pursue the late season competitively -- and an avenue for the league, players and television partners to create more lucrative revenue streams, sources said.
The play-in tournament proposal has coalesced around the structure ESPN first reported was gaining traction in early 2018: a four-team tournament among the Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds for the final two playoff spots in each conference. The tournament would begin with No. 7 hosting No. 8, and the winner locking into the No. 7 spot. Meanwhile, No. 9 would face No. 10, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the 7-versus-8 matchup for the No. 8 seed, sources have told ESPN.
To date, the league's 7-10 proposal has not been tweaked to include any standings trigger, sources told ESPN. The play-in tournament is meant to be a money-generating media property. Reducing the number of teams from four to three would reduce the number of games, and thus the overall revenue generated by the tournament, sources said.
July 7, 2022 | 6:31 am EDT Update
“From what I understand, I don’t think the Nets are thrilled with the offers they have gotten for Durant yet,” said Windhorst. “I don’t think that that’s a hot take considering that they’re reassessing with where they’re at. I think the reason is this: It’s somewhat known in the NBA that Durant prefers going to the Phoenix Suns and the Suns offer, what they have to offer right now just isn’t that interesting to Brooklyn. Brooklyn is interested in other things. That’s why Woj and others talking about needing a third or fourth team in a deal.
Since Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Nets last Thursday, he’s reportedly “gone dark” in regards to speaking with other basketball players and team personnel, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “Since he requested a trade, there’s been numerous stars that I’ve spoken to, numerous stars that have been trying to get in touch with him to pick his brain to see if he would consider other avenues, just want to get a sense of what he’s thinking—KD’s going dark,” Haynes said on his Posted Up podcast. “He’s not talking to anybody. Not answering anybody’s phone calls, not responding to texts. The only time you see him get out into the sunlight is when he responds on Twitter, and he’s not saying anything much on there.”
“I think that’s another consideration Brooklyn has to make about whether it’s a positive or negative to move Kyrie Irving either before Kevin Durant or after Kevin Durant,” Woj said regarding an Irving trade on NBA Today. “The market is certainly very different for Kevin Durant than it is for Kyrie Irving. “The Nets have talked with the Lakers and I believe there has been back-and-forth, some communication. You look at where there’s cap space right now and a team like San Antonio could be a facilitator right now in let’s say a Russell Westbrook for Kyrie Irving deal between the teams. They have the cap space. Now, you have to incentivize them at a pretty high level and I think that’s the willingness of the Lakers to incentivize a deal with multiple draft picks. I think that’s part of the reason that the deal hasn’t gone anywhere yet.”
John Gambadoro: I do believe we are close to a resolution on Deandre Ayton maybe even by tomorrow. Indiana has the cap space and I’ve heard rumblings of them signing him to an offer sheet. I’ve also heard Toronto has some interest but I do not know at what level.
While Deandre Ayton has been viewed as a potential trade chip in Kevin Durant talks, the restricted free-agent center has reportedly been exploring his options elsewhere. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the Hoop Collective podcast (44:50 mark) that Ayton has taken meetings with teams that “are not involved in potential Durant negotiations.” It’s unclear whether any of those teams have made formal contract offers.
After a season where he even flirted with the final four, Mike James is ready to say “yes” to Monaco’s offer that will keep him in the team with the aim of reaching at least Europe’s top four in the upcoming season. Before the season even ended, Monaco had presented a renewal offer to James, which was below the threshold of two million euros per year. Now the amounts have risen to this level and James, who was discreetly looking toward the NBA, is ready to accept it and remain in the Principality.