If you thought this NBA offseason was already getting crazy, just wait until you hear this.
According to what sources told ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, the NBA is open to changing the entire league’s structure.
Not only did a committee of executives talk about adding a “midseason cup-style” tournament, but the group also addressed shorting the leagues 82-game schedule.
The idea of cutting down the number of games during the regular season has become a hot topic over the last several years. The level of physical wear-and-tear on players thanks to the surge in aggressive, uptempo play around the league has drawn some concern. More frequently we will see superstar players opt to take games off or teams will completely shutdown top-players for the remainder of the season if the team expects to miss the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, the committee also discussed the idea of a postseason play-in tournament.
The changes appear to be sparked, in some ways, by the desire to make the league even more competitive. With the current system, many teams throw in the towel as the season goes on, and the last week or so of the regular season always feels unnecessary with most playoff fates already decided. Skimming down on the number of regular season games and adding a potential midseason tournament could make games feel a bit more meaningful.
Now, while a lot of these changes sound fun, Arnovitz makes sure to point out that making them happen could be a bit difficult.
Making wholesale changes to the schedule in a little more than two years’ time would come with major complications. The NBA would need the cooperation of numerous stakeholders, from the players’ union to ownership groups to national and local broadcast partners to sponsors, among others.
For example, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement requires the league and its teams to “act and use their commercially reasonable efforts to increase [Basketball Related Income] for each Salary Cap Year.” If players interpreted a deliberate drop in the number of games as an abdication of that effort, they could potentially have grounds to object to such reforms.
Apparently, some feel as though the money lost would just be gained back in a greater sum due to the heightened attention that events like the midseason tournament and play-in games would receive.
All of these ideas would first be instituted as a trial run during the league’s 75th season two years from now. The idea is to give Adam Silver and NBA executives an opportunity to see whether the plan is sustainable down the road.
Part of me believes these changes could make for a much more interesting playoff push. For example, a play-in tournament for the postseason (depending on how it’s formed) could give teams that are on the brink of normally cracking the playoffs a more legitimate chance of competing.
While the Bulls should, hopefully, already be competing decently well by the time this all comes around, it could give all teams (even those struggling) more of an initiative to play meaningful basketball throughout the whole season.
Honestly, I’m up for anything. The more competitive the NBA sounds, the better.