The NBA is in a tremendous place as a league, but that doesn't mean that everything is perfect. As Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries in the Finals showed, the grueling season and playoffs puts an incredible strain on players' bodies, and the champion is often the team that's able to stay the healthiest.
With that in mind, the league has reportedly been exploring avenues to alter the schedule. According to a report from ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz, a committee of team executives held a conference call earlier this month in which they discussed everything from a mid-season tournament to reducing the number of games for the 2021-22 season. Via ESPN:
The NBA is formally exploring how it might use its 75th anniversary season as an opportunity to test some of its bolder initiatives -- not only a midseason cup and postseason play-in tournament, but also a reduction in the 82-game regular-season schedule.
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.
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 arena 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.
It's important to note that these discussions are in the very early stage, and nothing seems imminent. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise if none of these changes end up being implemented.
While shortening the season makes plenty of sense in terms of player health and safety, that's unfortunately not what drives decision-making. That would be revenue, and it's hard to see owners and executives being willing to give up the money that comes with 41 guaranteed home games every season. Extra games via tournaments would help offset some of that concern, but they also bring some added logistical issues.
Though shortening the season would help the players, and adding some tournaments could be fun, it's hard to envision any big changes, especially by the 2021-22 season they're targeting.