Go straight to playoffs? Play-in tournament? Regular season? NBA reportedly polls GMS

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Is the risk of bringing all 30 NBA teams into the “bubble”/campus to restart games worth the reward of five to 10 regular season games? Is it better to just admit this is an unprecedented situation, tell teams sorry, and jump straight to the playoffs? What about a play-in tournament that would give seeds nine and 10 (and maybe 11 and 12) a chance to make the playoffs?

The NBA still has all those options on the table as it moves toward a decision on restarting the season, which will take place in Orlando. Now the league has asked its GMs what they think in a survey, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

GMs then received the survey late Friday night, which included polling on whether the NBA should do a play-in tournament, the preferred number of teams to enter the playing site, the preferred numbers of scrimmage or regular-season games prior to the playoffs and considerations for expanded rosters, sources said.

The options for the GMs to choose from, according to the report:

• Go straight to the playoffs, 16 teams, seven-game series each round.
• A 72- or 76-game regular season, followed by the playoffs (GMs would vote on the number of games, teams have played between 63 and 67 so far).
• A “playoff plus” format of a play-in tournament for the final playoff seed or seeds. GMs were given several options for the number of teams (9 and 10 seeds, add 11 and 12 seeds?) and the format of the tournament.
• How late should the NBA be willing to go with this season, with the range of options being from Labor Day weekend in early September through Nov. 1?

This is a survey, not a vote — the majority do not automatically get their way. Other factors, including the availability of coronavirus testing and how states are doing in decreasing the number of cases, will play a role in determining what’s next, too.

While the league has seemed focused on playing at least a handful of regular season games — getting above 70 games for teams, meeting a requirement with a number of teams’ local broadcasters — it’s hard to see where that risk is worth the reward for the league. To bring all 14 non-playoff teams to Orlando adds about an extra 500 people for a few weeks, increasing the risk to the “bubble.” Plus, what is the motivation for the Warriors to play Stephen Curry and risk injury, or the Trail Blazers with Damian Lillard, or the Pelicans with Zion Williamson? If teams are not going to the playoffs, the costs and risks seem to outweigh the benefits.

If Adam Silver asks teams to come and play five regular season games for the good of the league, they will do it. However, you can be sure some GMs are letting the league know they don’t want to take on these risks.