Sources: NBA Mulling "Dramatic Changes" To League Calendar
The NBA is "engaged in serious discussions" with the NBPA and its broadcast partners on "sweeping, dramatic changes to the league calendar that would include a reseeding of the four conference finalists, a 30-team in-season tournament and a postseason play-in," according to sources cited by Wojnarowski & Lowe of ESPN.com. Sources said that these scenarios "would come with the shortening of the regular season to a minimum of 78 games." They added that discussions are "progressing with hopes of bringing a vote to the April meeting" of the league's BOG that "would introduce some -- if not all -- of these proposals into the NBA's 75th anniversary season" in '21-22. The NBA "still has work to do coordinating with constituents on the myriad implications involving the proposed changes." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been "driving this agenda of change -- especially the in-season tournament cup modeled after European soccer -- for years." The league is "working to make sure the revenue for teams and players with a shortened regular season would be break even or be better initially, with significant financial windfalls." Sources said that the NBA and NBPA are "finding common ground on a post-Thanksgiving tournament window that would extend into mid-December" (ESPN.com, 11/23).
COACH'S TAKE: On Long Island, Steve Popper noted Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was the first to implement healthy rest days among his players during the regular season, is "in favor of the change." He said, "It would probably be beneficial." Popovich: "Load management is different to different teams. But everybody does it to a degree" (NEWSDAY, 11/24). Popovich also said of the league's reported changes, "All of us as coaches, (general managers) and presidents, we all got a lot of confidence in the decisions they make. Whatever they decide, I’m in. I’m rolling with it" (N.Y. POST, 11/24). In San Antonio, Jeff McDonald noted Popovich's "main takeaway" is that if Silver is "behind it, he would probably support it." Popovich said Silver will "work at that stuff and do his best job with all his colleagues." Meanwhile, Knicks coach David Fizdale said that he also "would be open to a shortened league calendar." Fizdale said, "One thing about the commissioner, he’s innovative. He’s always trying to make the game better and grow our game in a way that’s constantly improving it" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 11/24). Bulls coach Jim Boylen said of Silver and the reported changes, "I'm a huge fan. ... If they feel that’s what is best for all of us, we all are reaping the benefits of what’s laid down by the league office" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/24).
MIXING IT UP: In Houston, Jenny Dial Creech wrote the NBA is trying to "stay ahead of the game." While some of the ideas "seem radical, they show that" Silver and the league are "prioritizing the quality of the game." A league that "isn't stuck in its ways and is willing to make changes to advance the game is good for the fans, good for the players and good for the sport" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/24). In DC, Ben Golliver wrote as for reseeding the playoffs, "clinging to the West-vs.-East tradition is not worth sacrificing the best possible Finals matchup." At the same time, it is "easy to envision many teams -- especially veteran teams preparing for deep playoff runs -- not taking" the midseason tournament seriously, which "could turn the idea into a novelty." Still, there is "not much downside to re-branding a segment of regular season games as cup games" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/24). THE ATHLETIC's Frank Isola asked, "Is winning an in-season tournament going to matter to the players or fans?" Isola: "Maybe not, but the league thinks over time it will catch on. Time will tell." In theory, the “'Load Management Invitational' isn’t the worst idea simply because the NBA regular season is broken," and Silver is "trying to do something about it." Load management "may benefit the player in the long term, but in the here and now call it what it is -- anti-fan." Isola questioned if the players "don’t seem to care about the regular season why should the paying customers" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/24).