Silver: Planning short offseason, October start to 2021-22 NBA season
Commissioner Adam Silver is steering the NBA toward a return to a normal schedule with the start of next season beginning in October.
“Our plan as of now, give or take a week, is to start mid-to-late October of this year,” Silver said Friday on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
The COVID-19 pandemic threw the traditional league schedule for a loop, including a months-long pause in the 2019-20 season from March to August.
Only a matter of weeks passed between the end of the NBA Finals in the league’s Florida “bubble” before the start of the 2020-21 regular season, reduced from 82 games to 72 games, in December 2020.
The ongoing season will end weeks later than the usual second week of June cap on the Finals schedule.
“We’re going to have to do a bit of a shorter offseason to get back on schedule,” Silver said.
Several players, including Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, were outspoken against the tighter turnaround citing risk of injury. James missed multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain and teammate Anthony Davis was out even longer with a calf strain. The Lakers and Miami Heat had the shortest span between games due to the early fall Finals last year, won by Los Angeles.
A typical NBA season begins in mid-to-late October and the season ends in June. This season could go to July 22 if there are seven games in the NBA Finals.
“We think in terms of fan interest, what our television partners are telling us, we’re betting off completing our Finals by the end of June,” Silver said of next season’s schedule. “We looked at other lengths of the regular season. We will continue to do so. At least based on the evidence from this season, I don’t that’s a strong argument to go to fewer regular-season games.
“Obviously it’s a business. That goes to a reduction in revenue. I think the benefit in reducing the number of games — one it would go to player health. A lot of science around that, in terms of amount of rest, number of minutes and how impactful that is. The other issue is, if you have fewer games does that make games that much more valuable?
“Look at the NFL: with fewer games, each game has that much more value that if you’re a fan, you’re not going to take a game off. Those are all things we’re continuing to look at.”
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