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Suns could still make playoffs in reported return-to-play scenarios

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the Sacramento Kings at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 07, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Kings defeated the Suns 114-103. The Kings defeated the Suns 114-103. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A survey that the NBA reportedly sent to GMs around the league provides a look at what the rest of the 2020 season may look like for the Phoenix Suns if play resumes.

First reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the survey covers options for scrimmage games prior to restarting, roster format, resuming the regular season in full or a modified format, various playoff scenarios and other options.

What could be particularly interesting to Suns fans is the proposed playoff formats, which could break the franchise’s nine-year playoff drought.

Prior to shuttering play on March 12 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Phoenix Suns were sitting 13th in the Western Conference with a record of 26-39, six games out of a playoff spot.

An additional factor in the scenarios would be the decision to keep the traditional east and west format or reseed all teams.

Combining the two conferences would place the Suns at No. 21 in the league.

One option in the survey is to resume play in a “playoffs plus” option where a play-in tournament would be held to determine the final seeds in the playoffs. According to Shams, these would be played by bubble teams or a group stage replacing the first round of the playoffs.

Where the Suns could end up in this plan, if chosen, depends on whether 18, 20, 22 or 24 teams are selected to participate.

Another proposed option is to start the regular season from where it left off and play the same number of games, or resuming the season and add a play-in tournament for the final seeds with traditional playoffs after.

Resuming the season would give the Suns 17 games to make a late playoff push, whether in the Western Conference or in combined league standings.

The option that would shut down all hope for a Suns push to the playoffs would be to directly advance to the postseason when play resumes with 16 teams and best-of-seven series based on standings from March 12.

A choice in the survey purposed various last possible dates to finish the season, with the earliest being Labor Day and the latest being Nov. 1.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was noted in the article telling players the league is choosing from “a lot of bad options” that are not risk-free.

More could be known about a direction for the resumption of play in the near future, as the Board of Governors call will be held with the NBA on Friday.

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