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Mid-season tournament idea gaining traction, says NBA SVP Dan Spillane

Dan Spillane

One of the most radical proposed changes to in-season competition in the NBA continues to gain traction in the league office. At the annual Sports Lawyers’ Association Conference on Saturday, NBA senior vice president Dan Spillane confirmed that the league is still broaching the idea of a midseason tournament.

“We are looking at a midseason tournament,” he said, per Liz Mullens of Sports Business Journal.

Calls for the addition of a tournament to the NBA’s regular season have increased over the years, ever since media personalities like The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and ESPN’s Zach Lowe began publicly discussing the idea. Though the first iterations of an in-season tournament were meant as a means of qualifying certain lower-seeded teams for the playoffs, it’s currently unclear what official end game a potential tournament would serve, though it bears mentioning that other sports have long held them with the winner receiving little more than championship glory.

Last month, during his annual press conference on the eve of the playoffs, commissioner Adam Silver mentioned that he’s interested in the idea of a midseason tournament as a way to lessen the load players carry during the regular season.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Under Silver’s leadership, the NBA hasn’t been afraid to deviate from longstanding norms to improve its product. We’ll see if the future manifestation of that trend results in a midseason tournament.