The Knicks will not join the Nets in Orlando. But the Nets could still join the Knicks in the lottery.
The 22-team proposal to restart the season expected to be approved Thursday by the Board of Governors has made the Nets’ playoff plans a bit more precarious than the other 22-team scenario.
In one version of the 22-team proposal, the Nets would not have had a chance to participate in a play-in event. In that scenario, the extra six non-playoff seeds would have staged an eight-team tournament with the two No. 8 seeds. The Nets would have been safely in at number 7.
But the NBA is getting more elaborate with a lengthy reboot at Disney World that will feature eight regular-season games per team involved beginning July 31. The Nets could play beside themselves, although it would probably take a 2-6 demo.
The eight games of the regular season would make Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving return a little more doable. It would give Durant more time to make the playoffs. Thursday is the first anniversary of when Durant tore his Achilles tendon during the NBA Finals.
By July 31, Durant will have been gone for almost 14 months. Irving will have been gone five months.
The Nets are concerned that Achilles de Durant’s rehab was interrupted too severely and his return to the court for the restart is questionable.
In March, Durant faced 5-on-5 punches with bench players and Nets player development coaches, which was the last stage of his comeback process. But the pandemic took him off the field for more than two months while it was piling up.
Nets president Sean Marks left it open, but gave a hint in his last interview earlier this month when he noted he can’t wait to see him play in Brooklyn. Ultimately, however, the decision will rest with KD.
Meanwhile, the Nets can’t even make the playoffs for a KD comeback. The Nets (30-34) lead No. 8 Orlando by half a game. The Wizards are in ninth – 5 ½ games out of the No. 8 seed.
If the Nets fall to eighth place after eight games in the regular season and the Wizards are four games from last place in the playoffs, there will be a showdown between the Nets and the Wizards. Seed No. 8 would have the advantage, needing to win only once, while the Wizards would have to win twice.
The Nets have not fared well against the Wizards this season, losing both times, and they are expected to meet in one of the regular season contests.
With the Nets set to win the title in 2021, a lottery berth wouldn’t be the worst case scenario if failing to make the playoffs during the restart is the ultimate formula the NBA will use to complete the rest of the lottery field.