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NBA AM: Why NBA Teams Want The 8th Seed

Getting into the NBA’s post-season dance has more value than you think.

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There Is Value In Eighth Place:  Every year there is an outcry from fans of a specific team jockeying for that final playoff spot. Rather than qualifying for the playoffs, they feel their team should simply toss in the towel, preserve their shot at a lottery pick and forego what’s usually a thorough beat down at the hands of the top seed in the postseason.

Watching your team get hammered into oblivion isn’t fun, but there is value in getting in the dance versus sitting out.

First, there is a monetary inducement. A playoff game, even in the first round, is said to generate anywhere from $1-2 million per home game, depending on the market. The current playoff format ensures every team gets two home games, so the revenue alone is meaningful. Equally, making the playoffs helps sell next season. Teams that make the playoffs tend to convert those playoff sales into season ticket sales or partial season sales.

Second, there is free agency appeal. Does anyone believe Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is still in Toronto today had the Raptors not made the postseason last year? How about Wizards forward Paul Pierce? Does he choose Washington if they were still outside looking in?

There is free agent value in being able to say ‘We got this far without you. Join us, we’re one player away.’ That does not always work, but when the money being offered to a free agent starts to become equal, being a team that can compete in the playoffs starts to matter tremendously.

Third, there is credibility gained. It’s much easier to get a roster to buy into a team concept after a playoff run. Want your point guard to be around during summer league? He is more likely to do that for a playoff team than a lottery team. Trying to convince guys to sacrifice for the greater good? Easier to do that on a playoff team. Want guys to buy into your slightly inexperienced head coach? Playoffs help with that too. Want ownership to pony up a few extra million to retain a player or go acquire a new one? Those playoff dollars help.

Lastly, there is market place security. This one is meaningful for teams like the Milwaukee Bucks that are trying to get a new arena built.

It’s a lot easier to get a community behind new expenses for a team they care about. It’s also easier to sell all the ideas around a new arena – construction, new costs and advanced payments for a team that the community cares about. That increases exponentially for a team that is winning games versus a team that is angling for a draft pick.

It’s easy to say sell off the roster while their value is high, or start playing the young guys and get a lottery pick, but the truth is for most franchises getting to the dance even as the eight seed has real and material value across a number of areas.

Silver Wants A Fresh Look:  In a conversation with ESPN Radio on Sunday NBA commissioner Adamn Silver said he felt that changes to the NBA’s All-Star system were likely in order, but that adding more roster spots wasn’t as simple as adding more guys.

“I think that’s an issue that we’ll end up discussing with the Players Association. It has a direct impact on many of the player’s bonuses. There’s preset bonuses in their contracts for making the All-Star team. I think counter-balancing that is the issue of playing time. [NBA executive vice president] Rod Thorn and I were having this discussion yesterday. We said we should move to [Kentucky coach John] Calipari’s platoon system for All-Star to make sure that everyone gets [enough] playing time.

“In all seriousness, that’s one of the concerns with a larger team. We want to make sure guys get minutes as well if they’re All-Stars. I’m in favor of expanding it. I’m not sure if it’s by one or two [roster spots], but it is something Michele Roberts and I will discuss.”‎

Silver also said he had some things he’d like to see get done in his second year as Commissioner and that he expected the NBA Board of Governors to revisit several hot button topics this summer including tweaks to the playoff system and potentially revising the NBA Draft Lottery.

“It means also taking a fresh look at our playoff format, the lottery, things that have a direct impact on the competition,” Silver said. “I realize my statute of limitations is going to be up soon on taking a fresh look [at suggestions for change]. I think the second year is going to be a time for action and I think, to an extent, there are ways to improve the playoff format, ways to improve the draft lottery. This is going to be the year where we have to make those decisions. Of course, with our Board of Governors, that is all of the owners, we have to decide which of those ideas are worthy of being implemented.”

Silver also sort of downplayed some the inflammatory rhetoric coming from the Players Association leadership, saying he felt once it came time to really sit down and talk things should calm down a little, but that a labor fight was almost inevitable.

“I want to be a realist. I understand that it’s become a part of sports,” Silver said. “I don’t want to tell fans that they should disregard the things that the head of our Players Association is saying. I take her at her word. Having said that, I think that when we get into full-out negotiating — which won’t be for a long time — and we continue to share our financials as we have historically and everyone takes into account, meaning both the teams and the players, how well this league is operating … I’d like to think that calmer heads will prevail and we’ll all realize that we have a great system here and that we shouldn’t screw it up.‎”

The current labor deal between the players and the owners has an opt-out provision after the 2016-17 season. In order to exercise that option notice must be given by December 15, 2016.

Commissioner Silver official took over the NBA on February 1st of 2014.

The Story On Jacque Vaughn:  The drama surrounding Orlando Magic coach Jacque Vaughn isn’t going to die down any time soon. On Saturday there was an artificial sense that he was going to be fired after the Dallas Mavericks game, which did not happen.

In fact prior to tip-off on Saturday Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel stopped Magic chairman Dan DeVos in the hallway and asked him about his embattled coaches status.

DeVos explained that the normal process for major franchise decisions is that team management presents the family with a plan and a recommendation via a conference call and a final decision is reached. DeVos said as of Saturday no such call or recommendation was made and Vaughn’s status has not been discussed.

There have been plenty of media reports suggesting possible replacements were being considered, however on Saturday the notion of those names was massively downplayed, with both a team source and a league source saying the Magic have not reached out to anyone about their coaching job, but that there was a sense that agents for would-be replacements were absolutely trying to campaign in public.

The Magic are on the road for the next four days with stops in Oklahoma City tonight and in San Antonio on Wednesday.

The Magic left for Oklahoma City yesterday and Vaughn was with the team, so if he is being replaced, it does not appear to be something that’s happening this week.

There is no question there is a ground swell brewing around Vaughn and that there is a sense of ‘when not if’ on him being replaced.

The Magic are currently 15-35 on the season, have lost eight straight games 13 of the 15 games they played in January.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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