AP source: NBA, teams, union discuss shortening season

Sports
Adam Silver

FILE – In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before an NBA preseason basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors in Saitama, Japan. A person familiar with the negotiations says the NBA is working with the players’ union and its teams on a plan to shorten the regular season, possibly to 78 games. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The NBA may be closer to a shorter season, a new postseason format and the in-season tournament Commissioner Adam Silver has long wanted as well.

A person familiar with the negotiations said Saturday the NBA is working with the players’ union and its teams on a plan to shorten the regular season, possibly to 78 games. They also are considering a change to the playoff seeding and the addition of a midyear tournament for all 30 clubs in time for the 2021-22 season.

The tournament would likely be a way for teams to mitigate the loss of revenue from the shorter regular season and fewer home dates.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no update on the plan has been publicly given by the league. ESPN first reported the progression of the plan on Saturday.

The proposal could be sent to the league’s board of governors in April for discussion and possibly ratification. NBA broadcast partners ESPN and Turner Sports also are involved in the talks.

ESPN also reported the proposal includes a plan to reseed the playoffs after early rounds, potentially creating an NBA Finals between teams from the same conference.

The notion of adding a midseason tournament has been something Silver has batted around since at least 2016, drawing the parallel to how such events are customary in European soccer.

“It would need to be negotiated with the Players Association,” Silver said this year. “I’ve had very general discussions with (union executive director) Michele Roberts about the notion that these are the kinds of things we’re looking at. I think she, of course, is supportive of looking at any ideas we have to build the business over time.”

The same applies to having a play-in playoff round, which Silver has said he supports. That idea has even reached the proposal stage, reviewed by the league’s competition committee and others. The possibility of changing the playoff seeding has been talked about for some time as well.

But the drawback to any shortening of the schedule — and perhaps fewer home games — is a decrease in revenue, which everyone would want to avoid. That’s where the tournament comes into play, especially since it would involve all teams.

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