LOS ANGELES — For years, the idea of reforming the NBA playoffs to take the league’s 16 best teams regardless of conference has been bandied about. At every turn, it’s been dismissed as an impossibility.
That made it was interesting to hear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appear to raise the possibility of reseeding the playoffs in the future by continuing to take the top eight teams from each conference regardless of record, but then seed them from 1-16.
“When we get to the playoffs should we be taking either the best 16 teams or even if we go eight from the West, eight from the East, seeding 1 through 16 going into the playoffs?” Silver asked at his annual All-Star Weekend news conference Saturday night at Staples Center.
“And that is something that’s gotten serious attention, not just recently, but over the last few years at the league office. I think, as I’ve said in the past, the obstacle is travel, and it’s not tradition in my mind, at least. Having said that, you also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in The Finals, and obviously, if it’s the top team in the East and top team in the West, I’m not saying this is the case this year, but you could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else.”
The possibility of getting to that point would require clearing some significant obstacles. For starters, while Silver addressed the potential travel issue, the far bigger obstacle to making a significant change in the league’s playoff format is that 20 of the league’s 30 teams would be needed to vote for it. That fact has always been the biggest impediment to the league going to a 1-16 format.
That’s why Silver’s proposal, which, it should be noted, he brought up completely on his own, could be a potential compromise, as it wouldn’t see either conference lose playoff participants. The path to actually making it happen still seems littered with potholes.
In other news:
— Silver said the NBA is “conflicted” about the possibility of changing the “one-and-done” rule, and added that it is both waiting on a commission appointed by the NCAA to study the issue, and further discussions with the National Basketball Players Association before choosing a path forward.
“So, in part, we’ve been having discussions with Condoleezza Rice’s commission, so as I understand it, they’re looking to issue some recommendations in the spring. So we’ll be interested to see where they come out on that,” he said.
“We’ve had some meetings with the Players Association where we’ve shared data on success rates of young players coming into the league. We’ve talked a lot about youth development in terms of whether we should be getting involved in some of these young players even earlier than when they come into college.
“On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger? And there is also recognition that for some of these elite players, there is no question that they can perform in the NBA at 18 years old.”
— Saturday morning, the NBPA and National Basketball Referees Association met to discuss the ongoing issues that have plagued the player-referee relationship this season. After the meeting, the two sides released a joint statement detailing what was discussed, including plans for future meetings to discuss further education and clarification of the “Respect for the Game” rules, opening further communication channels to try to head off future conflicts, and a broad review of the current rules.
“The meeting marks a successful first step in generating empathy and building a better relationship between NBA players and referees,” the two sides said in the statement. “Moving forward, the NBPA and NBRA plan to meet through the spring and into the summer. Both organizations also plan to meet with their respective memberships to share what was discussed in today’s meeting.”
Silver addressed the meeting himself, saying he was pleased to see the two sides chose to meet and discuss the issues that have been present throughout the season.
“I think it’s fantastic and a great statement about this league that these important stakeholders in this case, our players and the officials, think it’s important enough and they have an obligation to the game where they should be sitting down and talking to each other,” Silver said.
“The fact that these two groups want to sit down with each other and say how can we both do a better job, how can we create a better understanding is fantastic.”
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