NBA play-in tournament to return for 2021-22 season, per report

The NBA’s play-in tournament will be back next season. The league and the Player’s Association have agreed to extend the play-in tournament format through the 2021-2022 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The NBA Board of Governors will make this decision official in the near future with a formal vote. 

The play-in tournament was introduced for the 2020-21 season, and it gave the teams that finished ninth and 10th in the final regular season standings in each conference an opportunity to qualify for postseason play. In turn, the tournament did a solid job of keeping more teams in the hunt for a ticket to the postseason all the way until the end of the regular season, which resulted in more interesting — and meaningful games — late in the season. 

The fact that the play-in tournament is returning for a second season isn’t much of a surprise. While addressing media members earlier this month, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that he expected the tournament to be back, despite the fact that there were some critics of the format. 

“It’s my expectation that we’ll continue [the tournament] for next season,” Silver said. “I think, ultimately, although there were critics, not just LeBron [James] but others who weren’t in favor of it, and maybe some teams who weren’t thrilled with it, I think overall it was very positive for the league and the players. Certainly, there’d been some suggestions about some tweaks we should consider, but again, I think once we bring it back to our owners for a vote and the players association meets and has an opportunity to consider it, it’s my expectation that it will continue for next season.”  

The NBA is clearly still approaching the tournament on a year-by-year basis, as opposed to committing to it for the long-term, so there’s a chance that it won’t be back or a tweaked format will be introduced after the 2021-22 season. However, given the fact that it keeps more teams in the playoff picture and in turn makes late season games more meaningful, it sure seems like something that could ultimately become permanent. 

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