Just a few days before the NBA Board of Governors vote on Thursday to approve a plan to restart the season with 22 teams in Orlando, Florida, some of the franchisees, which are considered title favorites, are discussing internally how the homeland court appearances are preserved can benefit that they fought in regular season through more than 60 games.
No plan has been formally proposed, and one is unlikely to be adopted because, in addition to a player union agreement, a vote with two-thirds of the Board of Governors would be required. Even so, teams that have traditionally had a home court have tried to find incentives to reproduce the leg-up that would have offered four games in a seven-game series, sources told ESPN.
Last but not least, the league has learned over the past few months that innovation and creative thinking are their lifeblood for overcoming a global pandemic that threatens to end the NBA playoffs and prevent a champion from becoming the first in the league̵
And so, in a hail Mary, some teams try to find a way to exchange the home advantage they lost for an alternative advantage in Orlando.
Team leaders who would host a first-round series in the playoffs told ESPN that they had had internal discussions of revitalizing their home advantage in some way at their own front offices and that some already had ideas with other teams in the Playoffs would have exchanged the same situation with the hope of having an ally if you appealed to the league.
Yes, some of the teams that could soon try to eliminate each other in the postseason have recently worked together to regain the advantage they would have enjoyed at home.
Strange times cause strange bedfellows.
Some of the scenarios discussed, sources told ESPN, include:
The higher placed team will have the first possession of the ball in the second, third and fourth quarters after the traditional jump ball to start the game
The higher placed team may designate a player who can whistle seven instead of six fouls before the foul
The higher team receives the challenge of an additional trainer
The higher-ranked teams can move their actual hardwood home pitch from their home stadiums to Orlando to try and keep the feeling of their home game experience
An out-of-court function where playoff teams get the first choice in the order of sowing from 1 to 16 when choosing which hotel to stay at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney World Resort. ESPN is owned by Walt Disney Co.
“I think the NBA is taking care of it,” an Eastern Conference manager told ESPN when asked if he wanted to offset the home advantage. “I don’t think it is a top priority for them.”
The NBA competition committee – consisting of owners, general managers, players and coaches – held a meeting on Tuesday and, according to the ESPN, none of the potential alternatives for the home advantage were addressed.
The Competition Committee acts as the League’s incubator to discuss the benefits of incorporating changes to the competition rules into the game. It is a brain trust that serves as a buffer for the league and discusses new ideas before they are recommended to the Board of Governors for formal voting.
One of the questions that league executives asked ESPN when discussing replacement options was how many of the proposed benefits would roughly match the boost the local court brings. They also asked whether the optimizations would turn out to be too tricky and could jeopardize the legitimacy of the future champion in an already atypical post-season.
A manager suggested to ESPN that the NBA provide the senior team with a menu of options approved by the league before each game – or possibly before each series – and let them choose one. On the one hand, for fans it could be an extra fold for the home viewing experience that they have to look for when they tune in. On the other hand, it could be like a candidate on the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” “” Choice between lifelines to get a final answer.
Another “radical” idea, pessimistic in background discussions, a Western conference manager told ESPN would allow the higher seed to pick his opponent in the first round.
The executive didn’t think the league would choose it.
A front office member of the Eastern Conference who worked for a team that is currently scheduled for the playoffs also didn’t like the radical idea.
“Choosing your opponent can lead to poor karma,” he told ESPN, noting that previous experiments in the G League have disrupted. “You can insult the basketball gods.”
Of course, as a manager of the ESPN League warned, the league found that any first-time rule change in a playoff setting would affect the game’s integrity more than it was worth.
“For every problem you want to fix, you may cause other problems,” he said.
Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps from ESPN contributed to this report