Mark Cuban pitches NBA play-in tournament, shuns group-stage talk

Yahoo Sports

With momentum toward the return of the NBA gaining steam, Mark Cuban is weighing in with ideas.

The Dallas Mavericks owner envisions a truncated remainder of the regular season with a 20-team playoff including play-in games. He’s not interested in a proposed round-robin group-stage format similar to the one used in World Cup play.

Cuban outlined his plan to ESPN on Tuesday.

Cuban: All 30 teams must play

He said that if the NBA does return, it must include all 30 teams, even those eliminated from the playoffs like the Golden State Warriors. According to ESPN, he was blunt about his reasoning. There’s money to be made in fulfilling regional television contracts.

He did propose a carrot to teams further down the standings but still mathematically in the playoff hunt — an expanded playoff following a five-to-seven-game conclusion to the regular season.

Instead of 16 teams making the postseason, Cuban suggested a 20-team pool with the last four teams that qualify playing in a play-in tournament similar to that used in the NCAA tournament. The No. 20 seed would play the No. 17 seed and the No. 18 seed would play the No. 19 seed with the winners advancing to face the No. 15 and No. 16 seeds before the start of the actual playoffs. Those could be single game or best-of-three scenarios.

More incentive for Damian Lillard?

This would provide more incentive for someone like Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes on Tuesday that he would not play without “an opportunity to make the playoffs.” The Trail Blazers are currently ninth in the Western Conference standings, which would have them out of the playoffs in a traditional format.

Mark Cuban sounds like he's ready for the return of the NBA. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Mark Cuban sounds like he's ready for the return of the NBA. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

No conference playoffs

As for the conference standings, Cuban proposes taking the top 10 seeds from each conference rather than the teams with the 20 best records. But once the playoffs start, teams would be seeded by record. There would be no Eastern and Western Conference playoffs.

Once the playoffs start in full, teams would play best-of-seven series. This aligns with the traditional NBA playoff format and provides more opportunity to generate revenue. More games, more money.

No on World Cup-style format

As for the group-play proposal that was reported earlier on Tuesday? Cuban’s not on board.

It “throws away the value of the whole season,” Cuban told ESPN.

General managers have floated the idea of a round-robin scenario that would include anywhere between 16 and all 30 teams playing for eight spots in a bracketed tournament, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The report also noted that several teams “were not initially enthusiastic” about the proposal, which was one of many being discussed. It sounds like this idea was dead on arrival.

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