Woj: NBA Making Progress on In-Season Tournament Schedule, Prize Money, More

Adam WellsDecember 25, 2021

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a ring ceremony before an NBA basketball game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

The NBA isn't giving up on the possibility of implementing an in-season tournament in the future. 

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there's "renewed traction" on the tournament, with the league and union in talks about "a structure that includes December pool play, pre-Christmas quarters/semis/finals and $1M per player payout on winning team."

Wojnarowski noted the in-season tournament could happen as early as the 2022-2023 or 2023-2024 seasons.

Rumors of an in-season tournament have been bantered about for years, though nothing has come to fruition thus far. 

In December 2019, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported the NBA sent a proposal to teams about a 78-game regular season and an in-season tournament for all 30 clubs starting with the 2021-22 campaign:

"The plan laid out for teams calls for a play-in tournament to decide the seventh and eighth seeds in both conferences—the top 10 finishers in both the East and West would therefore have a chance at the playoffs—as well as a $1 million per player prize for the in-season tournament."

Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the league brought back discussions of the in-season tournament with a $1 million-per-player payout for the winning team on a September call with the competition committee. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters in October that an in-season tournament that doesn't take away from the value of the NBA Finals is viable, but the league still has a "fair amount of work" to sell players on the format. 

Silver was able to expand the traditional postseason format by adopting the play-in tournament starting last season. 

The top six seeds in each conference advance to the first round of the playoffs. Teams seeded No. 7-10 play for the right to get the final two spots in the field. 

Teams ranked seventh and eighth play one head-to-head game, with the winner receiving the No. 7 in the playoffs. The loser plays the winner of the game between the ninth and 10th seeds for the final spot.