Top-ranked NBA teams are considering long-term alternatives to home court, sources say

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A few days before the NBA board of governors’ vote Thursday to approve a restart plan for the season with 22 teams in Orlando, Florida, several of the franchises considered to be the title favorites are discussing internally how to keep a semblance of domicile. advantage that they fought to win through more than 60 regular season games.

No plan has been formally proposed, and one is unlikely to be adopted as it would require a two-thirds vote of the governors in addition to a players’ union agreement. However, teams that have traditionally had the home playground have tried to find incentives to replicate the prospect of hosting four games in a seven-game series, sources told ESPN.

If nothing else, the league has learned in recent months that innovation and creative thinking are its cornerstones for navigating a global pandemic that threatens to cancel the NBA playoffs and prevent a champion from playing. be crowned for the first time in 74 years of history. .

And so in a Hail Mary, some teams are trying to invent a way to exchange the home advantage they lost to an alternative advantage in Orlando.

The leaders of the teams that would host a first-round playoff series told ESPN that they had internal discussions within their own fronts about boosting their home advantage in some way, and that some had already shared ideas with other teams in the same situation with the hope of having an ally during a call to the league.

Yes, some of the teams that may soon be trying to eliminate each other in the playoffs have recently worked together in a common quest to recover the advantage they could have enjoyed at home.

Strange moments make strange bed companions.

Some of the scenarios discussed, sources told ESPN, include:

  • The highest-ranked team is awarded first possession in the second, third and fourth quarters, following the traditional jump ball to begin the game.

  • The highest ranked team is authorized to designate a player to be whistled for seven fouls instead of six before committing a foul

  • The highest ranked team receiving an additional coaching challenge

  • Top-ranked teams can transport their hardwood playground from their arenas to Orlando to try to preserve the feel of their home game experience

  • An off-field feature in which the playoff teams, in order of ranking 1-16, receive the first dibs on the choice of hotel in the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex and Disney World Resort. ESPN is owned by Walt Disney Co.

“I think the NBA cares,” said an Eastern Conference leader at ESPN when asked about the compensation for the field advantage. “I don’t think it’s a top priority for them. “

The NBA competition committee – made up of owners, general managers, players and coaches – held a meeting on Tuesday and none of the potential field advantage alternatives were discussed, sources said. ESPN.

The competition committee acts as the league incubator to discuss the merits of incorporating changes to competition rules into the game. It is a brain trust that acts as a buffer to the league, discussing new ideas before recommend them to the Board of Governors for a formal vote.

Among the questions posed by league leaders to ESPN during the discussion of replacement options, one may notably wonder how many of the proposed benefits would constitute an approximate equivalent of the boost that the local court provides. They also wondered if the adjustments could seem too fanciful and compromise the legitimacy of the potential champion in an already atypical post-season.

An executive suggested to ESPN that the NBA should present the top-ranked team with a menu of league-approved options before each game – or possibly each series – and ask them to choose one. For one, it could be an added wrinkle to the home viewing experience for fans to look for when they hook up. On the other, it might look like a competitor in the game show “Who wants to be a millionaire?” »Choose between lifelines to help with a final answer.

Another “radical” idea surfaced in the background discussions with pessimism, a Western Conference official told ESPN, allowing the top seed to choose his first-round opponent.

The executive did not believe the league would do this.

A member of the Eastern Conference front office, working for a team currently nominated for the playoffs, also did not like the radical idea.

“Choosing your opponent can lead to bad karma,” he told ESPN, noting that previous G League experience had caused upheaval. “You can offend the gods of basketball. “

Of course, as a league director has warned ESPN, the league could determine that any rule change for the first time in a playoff setting would simply damage the integrity of the game.

“For every problem you try to solve,” he said, “you potentially create other problems. “

Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps of ESPN contributed to this report

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