Woj: NBA Board of Governors Expected to Approve Play-In Tournament for Future Seasons

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

Los Angeles, CA, Friday, April 15, 2022  New Orleans Pelicans guard Trey Murphy III (25) jumps over LA Clippers center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) for a rebound during first half action in the NBA Play-In tournament at Crypto.com Arena.  (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The NBA play-in tournament looks like it's here to stay.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday the league's Board of Governors is expected to make the tournament a yearly occurrence going forward. The play-in tournament was previously approved on a rolling basis.

The NBA introduced the play-in tournament during the 2020-21 season, which was limited to 72 games amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concept had a notable detractor in Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

"Whoever came up with that s--t needs to be fired," James told reporters in May 2021.

The fact the Lakers finished seventh in the Western Conference, and thus had to qualify for the playoffs through the play-in tournament, may have colored his thinking.

Wojnarowski's report illustrates how James and fellow critics of the play-in tournament have been in the minority. Over the last three seasons, it has added another source of drama toward the end of the regular season and given teams on the fringe of the playoff race a reason not to go into tank mode.

The New Orleans Pelicans are a prime example of why the play-in has worked so far.

At their halfway mark, the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans were 15-26 and 13th in the West. Their postseason hopes were dire.

In a different year, the organization might have thrown in the towel. Instead, the Pels were aggressive at the trade deadline and acquired CJ McCollum. McCollum helped spark a massive turnaround, which resulted in New Orleans qualifying for the play-in tournament and earning two wins to claim the No. 8 seed.

That provided a big springboard for the upcoming season in the Big Easy.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters in April he believed the play-in tournament would "become a fixture in this league." Making that a reality was a no-brainer for the league.