NBA Exploring Midseason, Play-in Tournaments, Reducing 82-Game Schedule

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

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Representatives from NBA teams and the league discussed potential tweaks to the regular season, such as shortening the 82-game structure or adding an in-season tournament, according to ESPN.com's Kevin Arnovitz.

"According to those with knowledge of the conversation, which sources regard as very exploratory, the proposed reforms would be adopted initially as a pilot program," Arnovitz wrote. "The NBA would have the chance to observe the trial run and evaluate the long-term viability of such a schedule design."

Arnovitz reported a regular season with as few as 58 games was thrown around but added "the appetite among team officials for a major reduction in the number of games was limited."

Some might see a shorter regular season as an overreaction after Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson both suffered significant injuries during the NBA Finals. However, Baxter Holmes and Tom Haberstroh wrote for ESPN.com in June 2016 that player injuries were on the rise and that the physical demands put upon them had never been higher.

Kawhi Leonard was also open about how he may not have been able to continue playing at a high level had the Toronto Raptors not carefully managed his workload.

ESPN @espn

"If we didn't do that, I wouldn't be here right now for sure.” Kawhi Leonard tells @Rachel__Nichols that the Raptors' load management plan for him helped in the long run. https://t.co/KtyxtjBJi7

The NBA altered the schedule in August 2018 to allow for a little more down time between games. Teams had fewer back-to-backs and didn't have to play four games in five nights. The recent conference call indicates the league is at least willing to entertain additional ideas.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has spoken publicly about the potential for an in-season tournament to coincide with a cut in regular-season games.

For fans of rebuilding franchises, a midseason competition could provide something to get excited about.

The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns—the three worst teams from this past year—were out of the playoff race early in the season. In a knockout format, though, the might be able to get hot for a few games and make a deep run.

These proposals still require multiple steps before achieving tangible progress, but it's encouraging they've at least opened a dialogue.