NBA Reportedly Considering Play-in Restart for Pelicans, Blazers, Spurs, Kings

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2020

PORTLAND, OR - FEBRUARY 21: Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 21, 2020 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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As the NBA examines all of the possibilities for restarting the 2019-20 season, the league might open the door for the teams narrowly on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture to slide into the postseason.

The Memphis Grizzlies are eighth in the West at 32-33. The Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings are all 3.5 games back of Memphis, while the San Antonio Spurs are four games behind the eighth seed.

According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA is weighing a possible play-in scenario involving those four teams.

The play-in format may extend to the Eastern Conference as well, with Shelburne and Wojnarowski reporting a "playoffs-plus idea" is being considered in which 20 to 24 teams would be involved.

The Athletic's Sam Amick added that "momentum seems to be going against a 30-team approach."

While nothing is finalized, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass confirmed the league is looking into moving games to the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Some will reasonably argue that it wouldn't be fair to end the regular season now and start the playoffs with the top eight teams from each conference. Plus, 70 games is the number at which franchises fulfill their local television contracts.

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Given all of the logistics the NBA would need to have in place, having all 30 teams travel to Orlando might be unfeasible, though, since it would increase the possible exposure of COVID-19.

Blazers star Damian Lillard may have spoken for some of his colleagues, too, when he told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes he wouldn't want to play without some hope of reaching the postseason:

"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now. And you can put that in there."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is holding a conference call with general managers on Thursday and the board of governors on Friday. Some had hoped that a final plan would be revealed by the end of the week.

However, Shelburne and Wojnarowski wrote that the NBA "has no current expectation that a decision on a finalized plan will emerge" as an immediate result of the calls.