Report: NBA sent survey to GMs about various return-to-play formats

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A survey reportedly sent to the NBA’s 30 general managers by the league appears to grant some insight into the return-to-play formats currently being considered.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA sent the survey to its GMs on Friday night, with said survey “included polling on whether the NBA should do a play-in tournament, the preferred number of teams to enter the playing site and the preferred number of scrimmages or regular-season games prior to the playoffs.”

The Association’s 2019-20 season has been paused since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No official decision has yet been reached on when or how the league will eventually return to action, though Orlando’s Walt Disney World has reportedly emerged as a clear front-runner as a site for said return.

Per Charania, Friday’s GM survey laid out a few different potential options for resuming the 2019-20 campaign, with managers able to vote on a number of different details, such as:

• Advancing directly to the post-season, which would consist of the traditional 16 teams and four rounds of best-of-seven series — playoff qualification would be based on the standings as of March 12, when the pause began.

• A ‘Playoffs Plus’ option that would expand the number of teams allowed to participate, “either through holding a play-in tournament to determine the final seed(s) in playoffs, to be played by ‘bubble teams’ or replacing the first round of the playoffs with a group stage.”

Charania noted that, for this ‘Playoffs Plus’ option, GMs were allowed to vote for what that expanded number of teams would be, with the options being 18, 20, 22 or 24.

The survey also included various options for the format of this potential ‘Playoffs Plus’ option: A play-in tournament featuring bubble teams for the eighth seed; a play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth seeds; or a group stage that replaces the first round of playoffs, with all teams participating in groups (where each team would play two games against each group opponent and the top two teams from each group would advance to a traditional second round).

• Resuming the regular season to allow all teams to reach 82 games.

• Resuming the regular season, holding a play-in tournament, and then holding the traditional post-season.

Charania reports that managers were also given options to vote on the following: the number of scrimmages to be played before a league restart (the options being two, three, four or five), the total number of regular-season games for 2019-20 (72 or 76), the overall post-season format (East vs. West or re-seeding all teams), and the potential date to stand as the latest this year’s post-season could finish (the options being Labour Day, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, Oct. 15 or Nov. 1).

While the league’s 30 managers are being asked for their input, Charania also reports that the decision will ultimately be in the hands of commissioner Adam Silver, the Board of Governors, and the players.

Silver also held a conference call with the GMs on Thursday, discussing what the potential restart of training camp would look like (a two-week training camp in each team’s market, followed by a two-week quarantined training camp in the playing location), an update on the league’s COVID-19 testing protocols (the NBA is trying to acquire tests that use saliva or test via the tip of the nose given resistance to nasal swab testing), and how the bubble sites could operate (namely that teams could share support services like doctors and security personnel, to lessen the number of people involved in these bubble sites).

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