Silver again mulls NBA midseason tournament

NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated Friday that he remains intrigued by the possibility of the NBA adding some kind of midseason tournament to its schedule in the future.

"It may be that even if guys were playing all 82 games, it's not the optimal way to present it from a fan standpoint," Silver said at his news conference following the league's annual end-of-season meeting of its Board of Governors. "I think we always have to step back and remind ourselves that at the end of the day this is about the fan, especially as the media landscape is changing and the bundle of pay television is changing, and we may move into a world where we have to win that support of the viewer every night.

"To your point, it may be the case that if you're not going to play, you don't get paid. None of us do. It's not just about the players.

"That's why I'm particularly interested in looking at different kinds of formats -- at midseason tournaments, for example, play-in tournaments -- because even accepting that players have so many miles on their bodies, there may be better ways to present it. Assuming guys are going to play 82 games, maybe there should be a certain number of games in the regular season and then there should be two tournaments throughout the season."

This is far from the first time Silver has broached the idea of playing midseason tournaments -- proof that the commissioner is firmly behind the idea of, at some point, making them a reality as part of the league's regular season. That dovetails with his comments at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston last month, in which he said during an interview with The Ringer's Bill Simmons that the All-Star Game "didn't work."

But, even as he again professed his interest in the idea, Silver made it clear that it was going to take more than him just saying it was a good idea to make such a thing into a reality. He would have to convince the league's players and teams it was worth doing.

"I know for most of the American viewers, that's a very foreign concept because we're not used to having multiple goals throughout the season," Silver said. "But as I said, it's very commonplace in international soccer. It would take a while to develop those new traditions because I think initially the reaction may be who cares who wins the midseason tournament; it's all about the Larry O'Brien Trophy. So we need to take a long-term perspective on these things.

"As I said, we and the players have a common interest in maximizing viewership and maximizing interest. The format we have in place now -- I'm a traditionalist on one hand, but on the other hand it's 50 years old or so, presenting an 82-game season, and there's nothing magical about it. I think it's on the league office to always be challenging the way we do things -- to be paying attention to changing viewer habits, a changing marketplace, a new world of the way media is presented, often on smaller devices, less on screens, people having shorter attention spans -- and saying, 'This is an incredible game, it's never been more exciting, the athleticism has never been greater, fantastic players coming from all around the world, but what's the best way to put the season together?'

"When you say we're at that point now, I'd only say that I think these kind of changes can't be done without enormous deliberation. Part of it is just the formality that they need to be negotiated with the players' association, but even if the players' association came to us and said, "You guys know best, what is it you want," I wouldn't know how to answer it. I think it's going to require a lot more research, a lot more thoughtfulness on behalf of the teams, players and the league working together."

Beyond the prospect of midseason tournaments, the other main topic to come up at Silver's news conference was "load management" -- the fancy way teams have come to describe resting their players to preserve their health over the course of the season.

Silver was asked about it on multiple occasions. And while he defended the players -- saying that, quite often, it is the teams who are putting these restrictions in place over their objections -- he said that it has caused the league to examine several possible ways it could alter things in order to alleviate the need for it to take place on such a wide scale.

"We're looking at the signs," Silver said. "The goal is to keep players healthy, especially for this time of year ... I'm incredibly sympathetic to that fan who is especially at the away game where that star player is there and that's the game that player is being rested. On the other hand, it's in the collective interest of the entire league that those players remain healthy for the playoffs.

"I think a fair point from fans could be if ultimately the science suggests that 82 games is too many games for these players, maybe you shouldn't have an 82-game season. I accept that, and that's something we'll continue to look at.

"I think the other issue that's come up is the season is going to be roughly the beginning of October to the end of June. We could also be looking at the format. We could be looking at the number of minutes in the game. Of course, the international game and the college game is 40 minutes and our game is 48 minutes. That would be another way to address load management.

"Those are all things we're looking at."

Prior to Silver's news conference, the NBA also did the tiebreaker drawings for all seven ties between teams in the final regular-season standings to determine draft positioning ahead of next month's NBA draft lottery.

To recap them, in order:

  • The Cavaliers won a tie with the Suns for the second spot; meaning Cleveland will get the second spot and Phoenix will get the third.

  • The Pelicans won a three-way tie with the Grizzlies and Mavericks for the seventh spot, and the Grizzlies then won the right to pick eighth. If Memphis' pick remains in the top eight, the pick the Grizzlies owe to the Boston Celtics will roll over to 2020. Dallas, meanwhile, will send its pick to the Atlanta Hawks if it falls outside of the top five.

  • The Charlotte Hornets won a three-way tie with the Miami Heat and Sacramento Kings for the 12th pick, and the Heat then won the right to pick 13th. That means the Celtics, which get Sacramento's pick unless it jumps all the way up to No. 1 (which, in that case, it goes to Philadelphia) will pick 14th.

  • The Orlando Magic won a tie with the Brooklyn Nets to pick 16th, meaning the Nets will pick 17th.

  • The Indiana Pacers won a three-way tie with the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers for the 18th pick, and the Spurs then won the 19th pick. The Clippers' pick (now No. 20) goes to the Celtics.

  • The Oklahoma City Thunder won a tie with the Celtics for the 21st pick; Boston will get the 22nd pick.

  • The Portland Trail Blazers won a tie with the Houston Rockets for the 25th pick, meaning the Cavaliers, who have Houston's pick, will make the 26th pick.