On the day the NBA indefinitely suspended its season, the Sacramento Kings were scheduled to play a game against the New Orleans Pelicans, a team they had lost to by two points earlier in the season. Out of an abundance of caution, the game was canceled, and neither team has played a game since.
The next time the Kings and Pelicans face off could be in the postseason, according to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Per Woj, the NBA is considering the possibility of a 20-team playoff tournament, with the top eight teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences, plus four addition teams from the Western Conference, including the Kings and Pelicans:
The NBA has yet to formally rule out the idea, but teams have become increasingly skeptical of the league bringing back all 30 teams to complete the season, sources said.
There are playoffs-plus idea that includes 20 to 24 teams, with the NBA including more teams from the Western Conference than the Eastern Conference, sources said. The NBA is considering play-in possibilities with teams like New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento vying for the postseason, sources said.
Technically speaking, this scenario would end the Kings’ 14-year playoff drought, which is the longest active playoff drought in the NBA by four years. The question is: How far would they get?
The Kings are currently seeded at the No. 11 slot in the Western Conference with a 28-36 record, meaning there are three teams ahead of them in the west that will also be vying for a spot in the Round of 16, assuming it’s a traditional play-in tournament. Of the four additional teams, the Spurs are the only team in the Western Conference that have a worse record than them.
However, that doesn’t mean the Spurs are much better than them, nor does it mean the Grizzlies, Pelicans or Trail Blazers should be favorited in an elimination game. The thing that’s most exciting about a potential 20-game playoff tournament is the fact that the teams at the bottom of the half of the Western Conference are pretty evenly-matched, and that’s especially true if all teams are healthy as a result of this break.
There will be teams that don’t like the format if they decide to go through with it — specifically teams at the top — but it’s arguably the most fair alternative for teams like the Kings that were still mathematically in contention for playoff spot.