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NBA chiefs to vote on making play-in tournament permanent

NBA decision-makers will come together this week to discuss the future of the league, including more debate on an in-season tournament.

Jabari Smith Jr. #1 of the Houston Rockets wears adidas shoes as he sits on the bench during a game against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center
Ethan MillerAFP

The NBA board of governors is expected to vote this week to make the play-in tournament permanent going forward, as well as a rule change to eliminate the ‘take foul’ in transition.

Governors will meet on Tuesday with the expectation that the play-in tournament – which was first implemented in the 2020-21 season, giving two extra teams in each conference a chance at qualifying for the playoffs – is a near sure-thing to be adopted permanently.

According to ESPN’s report, the feeling around the league is that the play-in tournament and flattened odds in the draft lottery – giving less incentive to finish with the worst record in the league – have gone a long way in curtailing the ugly ‘tanking’ generally seen in the final six weeks of a season.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver
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NBA commissioner Adam SilverArturo HolmesAFP

The ‘take foul’ has been a hot topic over the past season as players routinely decided to intentionally foul a ball-handler to prevent a fast-break opportunity, limiting the amount of exciting break-away dunks and shows of athleticism in every game.

As is the case in European basketball and international FIBA rules, that play is expected to be reclassified as an unsportsmanlike foul, resulting in one free throw and possession remaining with the offensive team.

In-season tournament for NBA?

While those two changes are likely to go through without much opposition, another recurring topic from commissioner Adam Silver will be discussed: an in-season tournament.

Silver has been vocal over the past few years about his desire to have mid-season competition in the same vein as cup competitions in European football, giving the teams something else to compete for and to add excitement to the regular season.

It was initially going to be rolled out at the same time as the play-in tournament, but it was met with stiff resistance and put on the backburner.

Original discussions proposed a $1million prize to each member of the winning team, although ESPN’s latest report says “the players would likely see more financial and competitive incentives before an agreement on the format might be reached”.