As the NBA’s board of governors met Friday afternoon to assess options for how to restart the season, the league’s general managers have expressed their preference to go straight to the playoffs.
In a survey of all 30 general managers, which was viewed by ESPN, 16 said they would prefer the league come back with just the typical 16 playoff teams, with the teams and seedings based on the standings when the season was suspended March 12.
That was one of four potential return-to-play options presented, and it earned more votes than the other three options combined:
• Resume the regular season with all 30 teams followed by a play-in tournament (8 votes);
• Go straight to the playoffs with either a play-in tournament or a World Cup-style group stage (5 votes);
• Resume the regular season with all 30 teams and then go straight to the playoffs (1 vote).
This was one of more than 10 questions on the survey, which covered a variety of topics, ranging from roster sizes to how long the season should last. But, not surprisingly, most of the questions centered on what the league’s return to play should look like and how it should be formatted.
In addition to preferring a return with just playoff teams, there also was a slight preference to keep the traditional playoff format, which received 16 votes. An option to reseed the 16 playoff teams regardless of conferences received 14 votes.
There were also several questions about what a potential “playoff-plus” model might look like, in terms of how many teams would be involved and how it would be formatted. A play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth spots in each conference — with the top six advancing directly to the playoffs — received the most votes with 13. A play-in tournament for the eighth spot in each conference received nine votes, while a group-stage format got eight votes.
When asked how many teams should participate in one of these expanded playoff formats, there were 15 votes for 20 teams, while seven voted for 24, five for 18 and three for 22.
One thing that achieved widespread consensus was the need for teams to have more flexibility with their rosters no matter how the league chooses to resume play. When asked if the playoffs should have expanded rosters or teams should have more of an ability to replace players sidelined by injury or illness, only two teams voted for neither option. Twelve voted for expanded rosters, and 16 voted for an increased ability to replace players who are injured or sick.
Meanwhile, when asked on a 1-5 scale to what extent they would support increasing the number of inactive roster spots available to teams, 13 voted for “5” (strongly support), while eight others voted for either 3 or 4.
There also was a strong preference to add two-way players to playoff rosters — something that previously wasn’t the case. Only three teams said they would vote against adding two-way players to playoff rosters, while 19 said they would support it if rosters remain the same size. The eight other teams said they would support adding two-way players even if rosters expanded beyond 15.
Among questions regarding a return of all 30 teams and a resumption of the regular season, 18 of the 30 teams voted for getting all teams to 72 games — meaning all 30 teams would play 5-9 more games. Twelve teams voted for getting all teams to 76, which would require teams to play 9-13 games.
Those votes fell in line with a question asking what the minimum number of regular-season games needed for a return to play was, with 12 teams voting for five and nine voting for 10 or more.
The question that saw the most divided responses was one about when the season should end. Presented with five options — Labor Day, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, Oct. 15 and Nov. 1 — none received 10 votes. Oct. 1 led the way with nine votes, followed by Sept. 15 (seven), Nov. 1 (six), Oct. 15 (five) and Labor Day (three).