The NBA is seriously reconsidering the idea of reseeding the four conference finalists as part of a larger proposal to reshape the league’s calendar, sources told ESPN.
The NBA appears to be moving toward an eventual vote of the league’s board of governors in April to implement an in-season tournament and postseason play-in for the seventh and eighth playoff seeds, but there’s an increasing chance that the reseeding idea could be eliminated before a final vote, sources said.
Many teams, especially those on the coasts, have expressed concerns about the increased travel that could lead to competitive disadvantages and a loss of traditional rivalries, sources said. For example, a Milwaukee-Indiana conference final would presumably benefit the winner of that series over a team that emerged from a cross-country Los Angeles-Miami series. The NBA’s coastal teams have been largely against this reseeding idea, sources said. The league’s research has shown that the proposal of reseeding teams based on regular season records could lead to travel increases of 60% and could result in one in one out of every four series being played across three time zones, sources said.
With reseeding, the NBA had hoped to create a scenario where the NBA’s two best teams — regardless of conference — could meet in the NBA Finals. That would assume the two teams with the best records were the best teams — which isn’t always the case in an era of resting star players.
The NBA has been working collaboratively with teams and the players’ association on details of a 30-team in-season tournament that would include pool play, and the play-in format for the seventh and eighth seeds.
The NBA is hopeful of instituting the calendar changes for the 2021-22 season, the league’s 75th anniversary, and that would require passage of the proposals at the April meeting of the board of governors, sources said.