UPDATED 12/2/19, 10:26 a.m.: The midseason tournament concept is currently in the discussion phase, according to the New York Times. Decision-makers are currently considering incentives, including a possible extra round pick for the winner and bonuses for players and coaches who do well.
See original story below.
For some time it has been acknowledged that the NBA's Western Conference is significantly stronger than its Eastern Conference. Yet due to the current seeding process, teams with a lower record are able to compete in the playoffs while more qualified clubs are reduced to watching from home. But now, it is being said that league commissioner Adam Silver is "studying fairly intensely" on possible changes to the NBA season.
On Tuesday, the New York Times' Marc Stein reported that the NBA is considering adding another tournament to the season. This would be in addition to the playoffs that lead up to the NBA Finals. According to Stein, the tournament would either be a midseason championship or used as a play-in scenario to ensure that the best 16 teams are fighting for the Championship. The idea is modeled after European soccer leagues that have multiple championships for different competitions.
"It's incumbent on me to constantly be looking at other organizations and seeing what it is we can do better and learn from them," Silver explained. "In the case of European soccer, I think there is something we can learn from them."
While this seems like a progressive move for the league, it has been argued that NBA purists will have difficulties accepting the new format. To this, Silver once again pointed to soccer. When referencing the growth and expansion of the Premier League, Silver details how fans are open to accepting change when done correctly.
"The most watched league in the world is only 27 years old," Silver said. "So the idea that the NBA can't create new traditions over time makes no sense to me."
This is best exemplified by the changes the NBA has made to their All-Star Game. Instead of putting the best Western Conference players against the most elite athletes in Eastern Conference, the two highest voted All-Stars are now in charge of selecting their own squads. This mixes it up, making a more entertaining experience for players and viewers. If the midseason tournament is enacted, it will introduce another change to the All-Star Game. The process will actually replace the game, making the weekend more competitive.
Although neither the midseason tournament nor the play-in competition is close to being ratified, Silver wants fans and players to be open to the potential changes as they would provide an "incentive to compete in the second half of the season."