Post-sea­son change

League com­mis­sioner says NBA lean­ing to­ward not guar­an­tee­ing play­off spot to di­vi­sion win­ner


A di­vi­sion ti­tle might soon mean a ban­ner but no as­sur­ance of a play­off spot in the NBA.

Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver said Wed­nes­day the league is lean­ing to­ward not guar­an­tee­ing a post-sea­son berth to a team that wins its di­vi­sion, forc­ing clubs to fin­ish in the top eight of their con­fer­ence if they want a shot at the ti­tle.

Sil­ver had al­ready said he ex­pected a change from the cur­rent for­mat that guar­an­tees di­vi­sion win­ners no worse than the No. 4 seed. But af­ter dis­cus­sions with both the com­pe­ti­tion com­mit­tee and board of gover­nors, he be­lieves the change will go fur­ther than that.

“First of all, it’s never hap­pened be­fore that a di­vi­sion win- ner did not fin­ish within the top eight, and our bas­ket­ball an­a­lyt­ics folks cal­cu­late that there’s less than a 5 per cent chance that it would hap­pen,” he said be­fore tak­ing part in a panel dis­cus­sion at the “Be­yond Sport United” pro­gram.

“Where we are lean­ing right now is that we would not guar­an­tee a spot for a di­vi­sion win­ner in part be­cause it’s so un­likely to hap­pen, and No. 2 if it does hap­pen it would be po­ten­tially con­fus­ing to fans. No. 3, you would be dis­plac­ing a team that did have a top-eight record.”

Port­land got the No. 4 seed in the Western Con­fer­ence last sea­son by win­ning the North­west Di­vi­sion, but the Trail Blaz­ers would have been seeded sixth by win-loss record.

That sparked new calls to throw out the pro­tec­tion for di­vi­sion win­ners, and Sil­ver said af­ter the own­ers’ an­nual sum­mer meet­ing in Las Ve­gas that change was com­ing, though they wanted more time be­fore vot­ing on it.

“So while we’re go­ing to con­tinue to dis­cuss it a lit­tle bit more — we need to make a de­ci­sion be­fore the pre­sea­son be­gins — I think the greater like­li­hood is we will not be guar­an­tee­ing a spot to a di­vi­sion win­ner,” he said Wed­nes­day.

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