THE NBA continues to fine tune the structure and rules it will follow when the season resumes July 31 at the Disney World campus in Orlando, Fla., including tweaks to the standings and potential roster changes.
ESPN reported Saturday that the league will use win percentage – rather than a measure of games relative to .500 – to set the order of the standings, a clarification that is necessary because teams have played a different number of games thus far.
Before the season paused in March, NBA teams had played anywhere from 63 to 67 games.
The 22 teams returning in Orlando will each play eight “regular season” games for seeding, maintaining the disparity in total games and thus making win percentage the first tiebreaker.
The Western Conference currently has the Portland Trail Blazers (29-37), New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) and Sacramento Kings (28-36) at 3 1/2 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) for the eighth and final playoff spot, but the Blazers’ win percentage (.439) gives them a narrow advantage over the Pelicans and Kings (.438). Similar situations could emerge for seeding in either conference.
The league’s restart plan features 13 teams from the West and nine from the East, with the possibility of play-in series for the final playoff spot in each conference. Memphis (currently eighth in the West) and the Orlando Magic (eighth in the East) must finish at least four games ahead of the ninth-place team in their conference to avoid a play-in series.
If ties within winning percentage exist, they will be broken by the league’s standard tiebreakers, ESPN reported, starting with head-to-head record from the regular season.
ESPN also reported Saturday that the NBA is preparing rules for how teams can add players to their roster in the event of injury or a player testing positive for COVID-19. Per the report, teams will likely be allowed to sign as many players as they desire, but only from a pool, primarily players who played in the NBA or G League or were on training camp contracts this season.
That would rule out any veterans who have gone unsigned all year, such as guard Jamal Crawford, and any international players. The status of players on two-way contracts remains unclear.
According to ESPN, the league and players union must agree collectively on such regulations, with negotiations expected next week.
For any player who tests positive for COVID-19, a quarantine period of at least a week and up to two weeks is expected. All players and staff are expected to be tested every night at the enclosed campus.
Several other details, including the schedule for the eight “seeding games,” have yet to be determined.