Adam Silver Envisions NBA Play-in Tournament Becoming 'A Fixture in This League'

Doric SamApril 6, 2022

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference during NBA All-Star basketball game weekend, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

It looks like the NBA play-in tournament isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league is discussing keeping the tournament in place beyond this season. Silver added that the format might be tweaked but expressed confidence in it sticking around, saying, "I think it'll become a fixture in this league."

Silver went on to say that he is trying to figure out a solution for "a trend of star players not participating in a full complement of games." He said he thought the play-in tournament was a solid start in that direction, but he is also considering other options such as adjusting the 82-game schedule.

"The other way we can get at it, in terms of player participation, is creating other incentives," Silver said. "The play-in tournament, I thought, was a beginning of creating renewed incentives for teams to remain competitive and be fighting for playoff position. It might be through in-season tournaments and changes in format where we can get at it."

The play-in tournament was originally implemented last season as a way to curtail the issue of NBA teams tanking to get lottery picks. It has resulted in an increased level of competition, as lower-seeded teams have an added opportunity to compete for a postseason spot.

Under the current format, the seventh and eighth seeds play each other in a double-elimination game. The winner advances to the seventh seed while the loser has to take on the team that wins the matchup between the ninth- and 10th-place teams to determine the eighth seed.

The first-ever play-in game was played during the 2019-20 season as part of the NBA bubble amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In that format, the eighth and ninth seeds were matched up if they finished the season within four games of each other. The ninth-place team had to win twice to move into the eighth spot.

In the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets are all locked into play-in spots.

Over in the West, three teams are locked in so far: the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs. The seventh spot is not yet determined because the Minnesota Timberwolves are within two games of the sixth-seeded Denver Nuggets. Denver will surely be hoping to win its remaining two games to avoid falling into the play-in tournament.