Team executives are encouraged by a growing perception that incoming commissioner Adam Silver will be more open minded than his predecessor, David Stern, who will hand the reins to Silver on Feb. 1. Though there's little consensus on an idea floated to replace the draft lottery with a "wheel" concept that would lock in the draft order regardless of record, executives view the proposal as a sign of Silver's flexibility and willingness to buck conventional wisdom.
Optimism about Silver's willingness to listen to ideas is so widespread that one longtime exec mentioned a bold idea that is starting to make the rounds in front-office circles: a midseason, single-elimination tournament involving the four teams with the best records at the All-Star break. The games wouldn't count in the regular season standings, but would serve as a much-needed entertainment boost as the league tries to ratchet up interest for the second half. The concept hasn't made it beyond casual conversation, nor has another idea that's gaining traction among front-office types: filling the 16-team playoff bracket with the best 16 teams regardless of conference. With every NBA team flying charter instead of commercial, the potential inconvenience of first-round series pitting Eastern vs. Western conference teams would be minimized. A new playoff format also would guard against this season's preponderance of playoff-worthy teams residing in the West. But even with a more open-minded commissioner, such drastic changes are a long way from becoming reality.
Though I like that Silver is willing to be open to new ideas, the tournament is a bad idea, IMO. Since it wouldn't count in the standings the teams wouldn't take it seriously. There's no incentive. Besides, the NBA should be looking into fewer regular season games, not more.
The playoff restructuring proposal is interesting, but then you have to ask, what's the point of having different conferences/divisions? And if the teams are seeded #1 vs. #16, #2 vs. #15, etc. it would reduced the likelyhood of early upsets, which is what makes the NFL and NCAA BB postseasons so popular.