With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving rehabbing and a new head coach potentially on the way, the Nets’ main goal is bringing the NBA championship trophy to Brooklyn in 2021.
Winning the 2020 title in late September in Disney World before no fans and with interim coach Jacques Vaughn is not their highest priority.
Still, the two likeliest formats to be adopted for the season’s restart — a 20-team or 22-team event — does not dramatically alter their chances.
The 22-team event — bringing six extra teams to the Mickey Mouse ball — would be most beneficial to the Nets, who were seeded seventh at the March 11 suspension of play.
That 22-team scenario would exclude the Nets from any type of play-in format to make the 16-team main event. They’d be solidified at No. 7 in the East — which they earned with a 30-34 clip.
Most likely, according to sources, the six extra teams would compete with the two No. 8 seeds from each conference in an eight-team single-elimination tournament. The top two finishers would advance to the playoffs with the Nets awaiting.
The six extra teams would be invited on the basis of being within six games of the eighth seed on March 11. The Pelicans and Zion Williamson, the Blazers and Carmelo Anthony, Kings, Spurs, Suns and Wizards would all gain entry to Orlando.
The 20-team format is less friendly to the Nets’ chances of advancing.
This format would be similar to group stages from the soccer world. Five groups of four teams — based on regular-season records — would begin the playoffs.
Each team would play the others in their group twice. The top two teams would advance. Those extra four teams invited to Disney all would be from the tougher Western Conference (Pelicans, Blazers, Kings, Spurs).
If the Nets don’t have Durant (Achilles) or Irving (shoulder), then their chances of moving on would be slim. The NBA owners will vote on a format Thursday.
It’s clear — with their super-cautious approach to Durant — the Nets are not gung-ho about pulling out all the stops for an uncertain playoff run.
The season reopener is expected to be July 31 — and that’s 13 months since his Achilles surgery.
However, the Nets are concerned Durant’s rehab was disrupted in March by the COVID-19 lockdown just as he had begun playing 5-on-5 contact scrimmages with teammates and player-development coaches.
That gradual work was a key part of his rehab at that time but the pandemic forced him to stop scrimmaging for more than two months. The Nets don’t appear willing to take the slightest risk, but the final call may be up to Durant, who otherwise wouldn’t make his Nets’ debut until around Dec. 25.
Nets president Sean Marks gave a hint the Nets were leaning conservative when he said in a recent interview he is “excited about [Durant] on the floor at Barclays in front of that fan base.’’
The Nets are formulating a plan to refund their season-ticket holders for the missed regular-season games at Barclays. The Knicks began refunds three weeks ago.
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