What the NBA will look like upon its return is the league’s biggest question right now.

But no matter the format, be it a play-in tournament, an international soccer-style group stage or whatever else they decide will transition to the NBA playoffs, the league wants its biggest stars to be part it.

And rumor has it, whatever cutoff line is drawn will be made to include Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.

“Look, I’ve just heard… I’m not saying the NBA is going this route, I’m just saying I’ve already heard this scenario that no matter what happens, the cutoff line will be the Pelicans,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on Thursday morning said on the latest edition of The Hoop Collective, as transcribed by SB Nation’s Preston Ellis.

“They’ll be in. It will be the first time in the history of the NBA that the league kicked the ball into the fairway for New Orleans.”

In terms of the league salvaging whatever it can from the season financially, having as many games as possible is ideal, though it may not make as much sense from a health and safety perspective. But to go straight to playoffs would bar a number of exciting stars from the NBA’s return, who would move the needle on television.

But the Pelicans may have a case for deserving a bid at the postseason beyond their rookie sensation.

The league has been discussing a play-in tournament for the Western Conference alone, as its teams on the verge of making the playoffs at the time of the pause were in a close race.

Memphis currently owns the eight-seed, or the last playoff spot, but Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento all are just 3.5 games back. And the Pelicans have gone 7-1 this season against the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Kings and San Antonio Spurs, who are four games behind No. 8.

So as the league and its Players’ Association continue discussions throughout the weekend, the only sure thing is that no one is ready to vote on anything.

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