ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe are reporting that the NBA is working with the Players Association and broadcast partners on dramatic changes to the league schedule, including a shorter season and reseeding the four conference finalists. Reducing the amount of regular-season games from 82 to 78 is reportedly part of the discussion, a change that has been murmured about previously as more high-profile players rest throughout the season. There are hurdles yet to jump, as the NBA will have to compensate teams for playing fewer games and therefore accruing less revenue.
The proposed changes would not be implemented until the 2021-2022 season, which is the 75th anniversary of the NBA. Next April would be the time in which the NBA Board of Governors could vote on the proposed changes. This is not the first time these changes have been reported, either. Rumors of a shorter schedule and mid-season tournament were reported back in June.
Discussions have also included reseeding the playoff teams in the semifinal round, similar to the WNBA. This would ignore the conferences of each playoff team and simply rank them based on each team’s regular-season record. This scenario would give the NBA Finals the two best teams in the league, as opposed to the best team in each conference.
A mid-season tournament, similar to what is done with European soccer, is something that Commissioner Adam Silver has been attempting to implement for years according to the ESPN report. Full 30 team participation is the goal for the mid-season tournament, with regular-season games contributing to the tournament schedule. The tournament would start after Thanksgiving and conclude near Christmas, potentially leaking into the coveted Christmas Day slate.
ESPN reports that there were discussions of the in-season tournament culminating on NBA’s All-Star Weekend, but the Players Association reportedly expressed hesitation in having players participate in both the tournament and All-Star festivities and have shortened breaks. The placement of the tournament is delicate, as the NBA wants to avoid the NFL playoffs and NCAA March Madness so the NBA is not drowned out.
While fans have been clamoring for a shorter season and playoff seeding being changed, the implementation of a mid-season tournament has not. That is not to mean what the fans say should be brought to fruition, but nobody has really asked for a tournament. Ultimately, what is on Silver’s agenda is what matters. Perhaps the inclusion of a tournament generates enough revenue to make up for fewer regular-season games. The thinking certainly has the fans at the core, which is all that can be asked for.