With the NBA season winding down as the playoffs start, commissioner Adam Silver revealed he’s considering making significant changes to the NBA that could affect the schedule.
Silver said he’s open to the possibility of a midseason tournament, shortening games and even reducing the number of games played each season.
“I’m a traditionalist on one hand, but on the other hand (the 82-game schedule is) 50 years old or so, presenting an 82-game season, and there’s nothing magical about it,” Silver said Friday at his news conference following the league’s annual end-of-season meeting of its Board of Governors (via NBC Sports).
“I think it’s on the league office to always be challenging the way we do things, to be paying attention to changing viewer habits, a changing marketplace, a new world of the way media is presented, often on smaller devices, less on screens, people having shorter attention spans, and saying, `This is an incredible game, it’s never been more exciting, the athleticism has never been greater, fantastic players coming from all around the world, but what’s the best way to put the season together?”‘
One concern that players and owners have with cutting back the schedule comes down to money. If there are less regular-season games, then there are less tickets to sell. Silver, however, is pondering the idea of adding a midseason tournament.
“That’s why I’m particularly interested in looking at different kinds of formats – at midseason tournaments, for example, play-in tournaments – because even accepting that players have so many miles on their bodies, there may be better ways to present it,” Silver said, per ESPN. “Assuming guys are going to play 82 games, maybe there should be a certain number of games in the regular season and then there should be two tournaments throughout the season.
“I know for most of the American viewers, that’s a very foreign concept because we’re not used to having multiple goals throughout the season,” Silver said. “It’s very commonplace in international soccer. It would take a while to develop those new traditions because I think initially the reaction may be who cares who wins the midseason tournament; it’s all about the Larry O’Brien Trophy. So we need to take a long-term perspective on these things.”
Another area Silver hopes to improve is “load management,” which is the term teams use to rest their players to keep them healthy for the entire season.
“We’re looking at the signs,” Silver said. “The goal is to keep players healthy, especially for this time of year … I’m incredibly sympathetic to that fan who is especially at the away game where that star player is there and that’s the game that player is being rested. On the other hand, it’s in the collective interest of the entire league that those players remain healthy for the playoffs.
“I think the other issue that’s come up is the season is going to be roughly the beginning of October to the end of June. We could also be looking at the format. We could be looking at the number of minutes in the game. Of course, the international game and the college game is 40 minutes and our game is 48 minutes. That would be another way to address load management.
“Those are all things we’re looking at.”