Adam Silver: NBA to Debate Shorter Games, In-Season Tournaments, Load Management

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 12, 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 16: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at the All Star Breakfast held by the National Basketball Retired Players Association at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel on February 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
John McCoy/Getty Images

The NBA has seen a few sizable changes in Commissioner Adam Silver's era, including a revamp of the All-Star Game and draft-lottery formats. 

However, Silver told reporters that the Association is exploring more seismic changes, including reducing games from 48 to 40 minutes and adding an in-season tournament.

Journalist Mark Woods reported Silver's comments:

Tim Bontemps of ESPN followed up on the midseason tournament comments:

The 40-minute game idea may seem radical, but it's been discussed before.

Zach Lowe of ESPN (then of Grantland) reported the following on Sept. 10, 2013:

"Several sources around the league, both at the highest team levels and within the league office, say commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver has signaled a desire to at least discuss moving to 40-minute games. About two years ago, Silver informally polled all 30 league general managers on the notion of cutting overtime from five to three minutes, per several GMs who remember the poll."

Lowe provided two "immediate sources of appeal" for a switch to 40-minutes: the aligning of NBA and FIBA rules and the creation of a more unpredictable and entertaining product.

However, Lowe also provided some interesting counterpoints: Namely, coaches may still rely on their starters to play the same amount of minutes, significantly decreasing the bench's impact. That, in turn, could lead to a drop in reserve's salaries given their lessened responsibilities.

But Lowe also posited that the number of games should be discussed before the number of minutes: "In the short run, there are lots of folks in the league who would prefer tackling 82 games before tackling 48 minutes," he wrote.

That's an astute point, and tying things altogether, the league could conceivably add a midseason tournament and reduce the amount of regular-season court time (via games, not minutes) simultaneously.

The league could shorten the amount of regular-season games (say from 82 to 72) and replace the missing action and revenue with a midseason All-Star tournament where players can pick their own sides.

The games could be played at a central location (let's say Las Vegas). Teams could play shorter round-robin games before a knockout tournament, somewhat like the current Las Vegas Summer League format. The tournament could also build a ton of fan interest, especially if fans can bet on the games.

Of course, that idea likely won't happen, but stars are still resting despite a decrease in back-to-backs. Eventually, something must be done.

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