Report: 75% of NBA GMs voted for play-in tournament, 25% group stage

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver is in charge during his league’s coronavirus crisis.

Because he governs through inclusion.

Throughout his tenure, Silver has sought the opinions of varying factions within the league. Not only has that given Silver better perspective, it has fostered trust in him. He’s not about to dump that method now.

So, the NBA surveyed general managers about how to proceed – asking questions about continuing the regular season, 1-16 seeding, a group stage and a play-in tournament.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

Half of the league’s general managers voted to go straight to the playoffs and cancel the rest of the regular season, sources said. Just over half of the league voted to reseed the playoffs 1 to 16 without factoring in conference affiliation.

General managers were surveyed about a “playoffs-plus” format—either a play-in tournament between the bubble teams to determine the final seeds in the playoffs, or a World Cup–style group stage, which would replace the end of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs with a round-robin format. About 75% of teams voted in favor of a play-in tournament, sources said, while 25% of teams voted in favor of the group stage.

Teams with top seeds, such as the West-leading Lakers and East-leading Bucks, are in favor of a play-in tournament, not a group stage, multiple league sources say.

Remember: Self interest is rampant in these votes. Just because Silver is soliciting opinions from general managers doesn’t mean he’ll implement their choices. Owners carry more weight, and Silver is scheduled to meet with them today.

I’m surprised so many general managers supported a play-in tournament. Silver couldn’t get that off the ground in normal times.

But if the choice were a play-in tournament or group phase – with no other options – that could explain it. Coronavirus has also obviously changed the equation. And again, general managers aren’t the owners who would’ve been voting for it in first place.

It’s also interesting the Lakers and Bucks – who’d face a play-in winner – favor a play-in tournament. Yes, a play-in tournament allows the possibility of teams less accomplished so far than the Grizzlies and Magic claiming the No. 8 seed. But a play-in winner would gain momentum in advancing to the playoffs. There’s a tradeoff.

Perhaps, Los Angeles and Milwaukee just believe more than 16 teams will continue and really loathe the uncertainty of a group phase.

All of this could be about the play-in tournament could being a less-undesirable option than a group phase.