The NBA is taking a prefatory look at some scheduling and competition changes that wouldn’t go into effect until the 2021-2022 season. Early days, this topic, but interesting nonetheless.
ESPN says two of the specific ideas being discussed are a reduction in the regular season schedule and the possibility of doing an in-season cup-style tournament, or something along those lines.
On a June 17 conference call, a committee that consists of approximately a dozen top team executives from both basketball and business operations discussed with the league office ideas for alternatives to the traditional NBA schedule for the 2021-22 season. In what sources characterize as a wide-ranging brainstorming session with accompanying documents, participants contemplated how the NBA could introduce the aforementioned tournaments, as well as an abbreviated slate of regular-season games to accommodate the additional events.
According to those with knowledge of the conversation, which sources regard as very exploratory, the proposed reforms would be adopted initially as a pilot program. The NBA would have the chance to observe the trial run and evaluate the long-term viability of such a schedule design.
Supporters of a new mid-season cup-style tournament acknowledge the difficulty of its implementation without a corresponding reduction in the number of regular-season games. For instance, trimming games off the current 82-game schedule would have vast revenue implications for teams which have commitments to local broadcast partners and rely on revenue from attendance at live games.
The number of games in a reduced regular season discussed on the conference call ranged from 58 — ensuring every team would host each of the 29 other teams in their arenas over the course of a season — to a marginal cut of only a handful of games. According to sources on the call, the appetite among team officials for a major reduction in the number of games was limited.
Well of course a “major reduction” in games isn’t gonna fly, since people would lose money. And as you know, it’s about the almighty dollar, our Lord God money. NBA owners, excuse me, “governors,” are raking in the cash for 41 games of home court attendance (plus playoffs) even as Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid, and other superstars are regularly sitting out games due to load management or various other reasons.
So my take on this whole thing is that I’d prefer a schedule that completely eliminates back-to-backs. That’s what’s killing the NBA, these short turnaround games that put players at risk by asking them to get on a plane, fly to another city, and play another 25-35 minutes just 24 hours after their previous game. We really do not need that Saturday night November road game in Memphis after the Sixers just played the Pacers at home on Friday night. It’s too much basketball.
Reducing the schedule to 58 isn’t doable because the rich “governors” would complain about lost revenue. BUT – I love the idea of playing each team home and away in a single season, vs. four fucking games with the Charlotte Hornets that nobody needs or wants.
What I would do is EXPAND THE NBA to 34 or 36 teams, have prospective new “governors” pay a one-time expansion fee, and possibly, maybe, disburse some of that money to current owners as a one-time payment for lost home game revenue. Then we play a 66 or 70 game schedule in which the Sixers, for instance, would play every team at home once, and every team on the road once.
Possible expansion cities:
- St. Louis or Kansas City
- Cincy or Columbus
All of those cities already have pro teams and could support NBA squads.
Basically what you’d be looking at is something like an 18-team Eastern Conference and an 18-team Western Conference, so you’d play the other 35 NBA teams both home and away, resulting in a balanced 70-game schedule that cuts the regular season down by 12 games, amounting to about two weeks. Or, you just keep the season length as it is and space out the games a bit more to avoid back-to-backs.
It’s a fool-proof plan, and while we’re at it, let’s extend it to the NHL, the removal of back-to-backs, because I don’t need 17 of those on the Flyers’ schedule this year. It’s outrageous.
As for the in-season tournament or cup, I just don’t see that being a thing. Teams wouldn’t care, wouldn’t prioritize it, and would likely rest their superstars for the playoff push anyway, right? You see this in soccer a lot, where squads like Manchester City and Chelsea use second stringers for the early rounds of the domestic cup while concentrating on league performances.
But again, none of this will ever happen, because it’s all about money: