The NBA appears to be gaining momentum for a return.
But if -- or when -- the league gets back to action this season, it could be with the Cleveland Cavaliers on the outside looking in.
Over the course of the past weeks, multiple proposals for the league's return have circulated, with games likely resuming in Orlando, Florida, in late-July. But with the idea of the NBA finishing out its regular season seeming to have lost momentum, the Cavs, who lay claim to the second-worst record in the league at 19-46, wouldn't be included in the proposals that appear to be gaining the most traction.
Those proposals include the following:
Should the NBA return in July, it could jump right into the postseason, although it may not look like a traditional 16-team NBA Playoff format.
Rather, ideas have been floated to either expand the postseason to between 20-24 teams or have play-in games to include teams who still had a chance to make a run at clinching a playoff spot when the NBA season was suspended on March 11 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
None of these scenarios, however, would include the Cavs, who currently possess the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
One possibility that could include Cleveland though is an idea proposed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has suggested a play-in tournament that would include all 30 NBA teams playing five to seven regular-season games before a play-in tournament to determine the final two playoff seeds.
Such a scenario, however, currently appears unlikely.
"The NBA has yet to formally rule out the idea, but teams have become increasingly skeptical of the league bringing back all 30 teams to complete the season," ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday.
World Cup format
One idea that seems to be gaining traction -- at least publically -- is a proposal that would mirror soccer's World Cup.
Rather than beginning with a traditional regular season or postseason format, the league would be divided into groups, either based on the current standings or randomly. From there, the groups would play each other in a round-robin style tournament with the results determining playoff seeding for a more traditional postseason tournament.
While ESPN's Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported the league has weighed including between 16 and all 30 teams in this format, the latter appears less likely. Moreover, while it's been heavily debated in recent days, such a radical departure from the league's traditional postseason could prove difficult in attracting support throughout the league for approval.