While Adam Silver has expressed an openness to tweaking the NBA's regular season and is interested in adding a mid-campaign tournament— similar to events like the FA Cup in English soccer or Spain's Copa Del Rey—the NBA commissioner isn't in devaluing the regular season in the process.
"The last thing I'm trying to suggest is that we don't value our current regular season, it's enormously valuable," he told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill. "These teams care a lot about home-court advantage, and people can't get enough of NBA basketball."
Detractors of the 82-game season have argued that it puts a major strain on the players, leading to an increasing number of injuries that keep star players out of action come the postseason.
"The fact that teams are focused on load management and players are resting, that sends a message in its own right," Silver told Goodwill. "And I'm saying we're paying attention to that and want to make sure that the number of games we're playing isn't just a result of the fact that that's what we've been doing for 50 years."
While tradition may play a factor, the bigger impediment to shortening the season is making up the revenues the owners would be giving up by cutting out games. A midseason tournament might help alleviate that somewhat, though it also might not actually lead to fewer games.
The regular season helps determine seeding for the playoffs, but over 82 games, the drama for the top seed becomes diluted, especially since homecourt advantage in a seven-game series isn't quite as impactful as it is in a sport like football, where the playoffs are one-and-done matchups.
That, in part, explains why the play-in tournament for the final two playoff seeds has been such a hit, adding a level of immediate drama between the regular season and playoffs. It has also kept more teams in contention for a playoff spot later in the season, taking away some incentive for teams to tank.
Silver will have to find a similar hook for the midseason tournament he desires, giving fans and players alike to latch onto the idea.
"I'll say I recognize that [if] we do that, it's not going to be an overnight success," Silver admitted. "Because the obvious question, whether it's from the players or for the fans, will be, 'What? Why should we think this is meaningful? Playing in-season tournaments?' My response is going to be, 'I get that.' But I think we can create new traditions, obviously, things change over time."
The question remains whether the regular-season schedule length should be one of those things that changes. It's become enough of a conversation around the league that it seems likely, though the NBA will ultimately follow the money.