That mindset helps to get us to the main point here: It’s not unreasonable to expect some NBA teams to lean on backups and two-way players in at least a few group stage games, even if they count in the standings. It isn’t difficult to imagine some franchises staying committed to load management in November and December, especially ones that expect to make deep playoff runs.Would the league pressure teams not to do that as it tries to keep the inaugural event relevant? Would some players push back and insist on playing, given that there’s a seven-figure prize at stake? Will the league have to increase the prize money to incentivize participation?Those questions won’t be answered right away, because a lot still has to happen for the in-season tournament to become a reality, but they will need to be addressed. The answers could help to determine whether all teams buy into the league’s attempt to give its regular season a boost. We now have a better grasp of how the NBA wants to liven up its regular season.The highlights, as expected, are a shorter schedule, an in-season tournament, play-in games for the final two playoff berths in each conference and reseeding the final four teams in the playoffs. Shams Charania of The Athletic laid out some specifics in a pair of tweets Friday night, and The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds followed up with a report on the full proposal. The plan needs to be approved by team owners and the players. Sources: NBA has sent teams the proposal for 2021-22 season changes:- 78-game regular season- In-season tournament ($1M per player, $1.5M coaches pool for champion)- Play-in tourneys for 7-8 playoff seeds- Final 4 reseed in playoffs based on regular season records— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 21, 2019MORE: SN’s NBA All-Decade team for the 2010sThe in-season tournament is the most complicated of the proposed changes:Sources: NBA’s in-season tournament format proposal: All 30 teams involved from late Nov. to mid-Dec.:- Divisional games (4 home, 4 away) for group stage- 6 divisional stage winners, plus 2 wildcards for knockout- Quarterfinals at home market; semifinals/Finals at neutral site— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 21, 2019It’s worth taking time to examine one aspect of the competition.The NBA is modeling it on European soccer leagues’ in-season domestic tournaments, although the NBA’s version would be conducted over a much more compressed time period. The AP’s Reynolds reports the 2021 tournament, as of this moment, would run 25 days (Nov. 24 through Dec. 18). The group stage (which will count as regular-season games) would be the busiest part, with eight games in 18 days (Nov. 24 through Dec. 11). For comparison, the Lakers played nine games from Nov. 25 though Dec. 11 this year. England’s FA Cup and Carabao Cup are conducted over multiple months and scheduled around Premier League and UEFA (Champions League and Europa League) play.The NBA, though, should already know that those competitions don’t command nearly the same respect from clubs as the Premier League season or the Champions League. The domestic cup winners qualify for the second-tier UEFA Europa League. With less at stake, clubs large and small use matches in those competitions to rest first-teamers and give young players experience.One glaring example: Premier League leader Liverpool’s 5-5 draw vs. Arsenal in the Carabao Cup’s Round of 16 on Oct. 30. Reds stalwarts Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, some of whom were nursing minor ailments, all took DNPs with the club in the middle of a run of five matches in 14 days, a stretch bookended by matches in the Champions League. Five of the team’s starters that night have yet to appear in a Premier League match this season.Liverpool advanced on penalty kicks, but then encountered a ticklish situation this week in the quarterfinals: It was scheduled to face Aston Villa one night before its FIFA Club World Cup semifinal match in Qatar. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called up the club’s under-23s for the domestic match Tuesday, and that outfit lost 5-0. The varsity, minus an ill van Dijk, beat Mexican side Monterrey 2-1 on Wednesday in the Middle East. The Reds will play Brazilian side Flamengo for the title Saturday.Liverpool’s midweek experience was unusual, but even if it wasn’t facing that dilemma, the domestic cup still would have been a lower priority. Add the fact that this club has a chance to win the Premier League, repeat as Champions League winner and claim the Club World Cup in the same season, and the focus becomes even clearer.