The Blazers got what they wanted, a shot at the playoffs. So what gives? Why would team ownership vote against the return plan?
PORTLAND, Ore. — On Thursday, the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a plan to restart the league season in late July at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida. The National Basketball Players Association has a call Friday to discuss and approve the plan.
The plan will bring 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams to Orlando. Each team will play eight games to finish the regular season and determine playoff seeding.
The six teams currently outside the playoff picture — the Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs and Suns in the West and the Wizards in the East — can earn a spot in a play-in tournament against the eighth-seeded team if they finish in ninth place and are within four games of that team at the conclusion of the eight-game finish to the regular season.
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After the play-in tournament, the playoffs will commence according to their regular format.
All but one of the NBA’s 30 team ownership groups voted to approve the plan. The Portland Trail Blazers are among the 22 teams selected for the restart, but they were also the lone team to vote against the format, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Last month, Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard went public, telling Yahoo’ Sports Chris Haynes that if the NBA returned and the Blazers didn’t have an opportunity to earn a playoff berth, he wouldn’t participate in the resumption of the season.
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The Blazers, however, got what Lillard wanted, a shot at the playoffs. So what gives? Why would team ownership vote against the return plan?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski elaborated further, saying the Blazers “believed there were more competitive and innovative formats on [the] table — including those that addressed 2020 NBA Draft lottery odds based on regular-season game results in Orlando.”
K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported that the lottery teams for the 2020 NBA draft will be the eight teams not participating in the restart and the six teams participating in the restart that are outside the playoff picture, which includes the Trail Blazers.
What might concern the Blazers is that the NBA will seed teams in the lottery and assign odds based on records through March 11, when the season was suspended. That means the Blazers, even though they’re locked in as a lottery team, couldn’t move higher in the lottery if the eight games in Orlando don’t go well.
Blazers players, however, were pleased with team ownership. Blazers guard CJ McCollum tweeted his approval.
“We play for an ownership group that actually listens to its players and has a backbone,” McCollum wrote. “We voiced what we felt was the best option and they followed our lead. I commend our front office and Jody Allen.”
Jared Cowley is a digital senior producer for KGW. He writes about the Blazers and other topics and is the co-host of KGW’s 3-on-3 Blazers podcast. You can reach him via Twitter @jaredcowley.
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