The Trail Blazers Were the Only Team to Vote Against the NBA’s Return Proposal. Why?

The NBA Board of Governors strongly supported the NBA’s return-to-play proposal Thursday, which allows 22 teams to head to Orlando to participate in an abbreviated end to the regular season and playoffs. In fact, the voting was nearly unanimous.

The lone team voting no? The Portland Trail Blazers.

Surely they were excited for an opportunity to earn a playoff spot, so why the vote against the proposal?

According to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, Portland preferred a 20 team invite:

It makes sense, the potential to eliminate two of the teams hanging on in contention for the West’s eighth and final playoff spot (The Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, and Sacramento Kings, among others) would give them an easier path to the playoffs. The vote, at least partially, reflected the wishes of the players:

Simply put, the Trail Blazers don’t think it’s fair that they could both not be given a chance to qualify for the playoff and not improve their lottery odds.

They argue that they are basically locked into the 9th seed for the lottery (where it’s bad), but not locked into the 9th seed when determining playoff qualifying (where it’d be good).

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowki goes on to report that Portland was interested in proposals that also addressed draft lottery odds based on the eight regular-season games to be played in Orlando

Ultimately, Portland is trying to play both sides here – they want to be able to play their way in to the playoffs, but also want to maximize their lottery positioning should they come up short.

Does it seem petty? Not really. Teams should vote in their best interest. The Trail Blazers are in a unique position where they have a reasonable, but not solidified shot at the postseason. Teams like Memphis are much more likely to reach the eighth spot, other west contenders are more likely to end up in the lottery. The Trail Blazers are stuck in-between.

The good news for Portland is that Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both reportedly good to go. Nurkic was set to make his return when the season was postponed. Collins was questionable to return for the regular season, but the multi-month delay gave him ample opportunity to recover.