If the NBA resumes the 2019-20 season in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, one proposal could put the New York Knicks in a new playoff tournament.
The last time the New York Knicks were in the playoffs, Tik Tok was the sound a clock made, RJ Barrett was in middle school, and Donald Trump was a private citizen who was recently inducted into the WWE Hall-of-Fame.
Under one of several proposals being considered by the NBA for how the league will look if the 2019-20 season resumes, the Knicks would be a playoff team for the first time since 2013. Well, sort of.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the NBA is considering a proposal that would give incentive to lottery dwellers to return to play by setting up a four-team single elimination tournament between the 9-12 seeds of each conference to earn the right to play as the 8-seed in the traditional 16-team playoff format.
The Knicks currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, thanks to a 17-27 stretch led by coach Mike Miller to make up for a brutal 4-18 start under David Fizdale. Detroit is one game behind the Knicks in the 13th position.
The NBA has been considering new ideas to introduce into the league calendar, independent of the novel coronavirus. In November, a proposal emerged that would have created an in-season tournament and postseason play-in, but the league later decided to pause in voting on the changes.
Last week, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported that while a play-in tournament is being discussed, it is considered highly unlikely due to the complexities of planning a new format with requisite television deals in a short timeframe.
A source told O’Connor, “The first game when we get back will probably be a playoff game.”
For the Knicks, the larger question over a potential play-in tournament would be how it impacts their lottery odds. They currently have the sixth highest odds to land the top pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
The league could decide to freeze the current odds independent of the play-in tournament results, or perhaps reward the winner of the play-in with higher lottery odds. But these are just speculative ideas, as there has been no word on how the league would actually handle the lottery under a proposed play-in format.