Mark Cuban Suggests Unique NBA Playoff Format

The Mavericks owner has some outside-the-box ideas about how to finish the 2019-20 season

Tiki and Tierney
May 26, 2020 - 6:35 pm
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A lot of NBA fans and analysts have ideas about how the league should proceed with the 2019-20 season. 

Well, so does Mark Cuban – and if you like March Madness, you’ll probably like his plan.

“What I’ve proposed is very simple,” Cuban said on Tiki and Tierney. “We play five to seven more regular-season games – because you can’t just throw guys into the playoffs. That’s just physically too tough. You’ve got to get them into the groove of playing the games. Once you set the number of games you’re going to play, then what I propose is that we take the top 10 seeds in each conference, and with five to seven more games, that means every team in the Eastern Conference has a chance to make the playoffs because they are fewer than fives games behind the tenth spot.”

Cuban suggests the same format for the Western Conference, though it would eliminate Minnesota and Golden State.

“They’re more than five or seven games out,” he said. “But that means all but two teams have a chance to make the playoffs. Once you have those two top-10s from the two conferences, you combine them together, seed [them] one through 20, then you have a one-time playoff game like you do in the NCAA where 20 plays 17, 19 plays 18. The winners of those play a series against the 15th- and 16th-seeded teams, the first two seeds get a bye, and you play it out.”

Cuban’s proposal seems both fair and entertaining. It also takes TV partners into account.

“The economics for the NBA is that there’s a lot of local TV money, and we’ve got to get up to a certain number of games for all teams to be able to do that with their local broadcast partners,” Cuban said. “So we want to have some interest from all those team or as many of them as possible. So having 28 out of 30 teams either in the playoffs or having a good chance to make it creates that interest. Then you have the one-game playoff, which creates more interest. Then you get into the playoffs, and who knows what will happen?”

The NBA hopes to continue its season in late-July, perhaps at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando. The complex is a 255-acre campus with arenas and ample hotel space.

There is, however, nothing official as of now.

“We’re still kind of in limbo because it’s still safety first and I think that’s the biggest question – and challenge, actually – because no athlete wants to go back and put themselves in jeopardy,” Cuban said. “You have a limited career in terms of years, and we’ve got to make sure it’s safe. Not only that, we’ve got to make sure that the players are confident that it’s safe. So that’s the biggest challenge going forward.”

Even if the NBA has a plan in place, it’s possible that individual players might not feel safe participating.

“Yeah, there’s always that chance,” Cuban said. “If you go back to when Magic Johnson said he had HIV, how many guys said they wouldn’t play with him? I think there’s always uncertainty, but that’s just part of our job and part of the league’s job is just giving everybody that confidence. But on the flip side, all the guys that I’ve talked to – and they’ve obviously all been in quarantine and paying attention to everything – they’re dying to play.They’re ready to get back. It’s one of those things where their bodies all feel a whole lot better right now and they get to almost start a season, have a shortened season, where they get to go after it. So they’re excited.”