A common lament heard around the NBA, especially at this time of the year, is that the schedule remains too grueling. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich continues to rest his veterans — particularly Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — multiple games as they await the playoffs. Many other coaches are searching for ways to rest or reduce the minutes of their star players, even if it might cost them a higher playoff seeding.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has the difficult challenge of dealing with several injured players, trying to keep his top players somewhat fresh for the postseason, and yet giving his team a chance to break the league’s single-season win record. Virtually every coach in the league will tell anybody willing to lend an ear that they don’t have enough practice time and/or enough healthy bodies to hold a meaningful practice.
The league has made some minor changes recently to improve the situation. It extended the All-Star break to give players a longer midseason rest. This season, it reduced the number of back-to-back sets that every team plays, though most teams feel there’s still too many. The Pistons, for example, are playing a league-high 20 back-to-backs — thus, nearly half of their schedule is being played on consecutive nights.
There are several ways the league can attack the problem. They could reduce the amount of regular-season games, though that’s the most unlikely scenario. Team revenues are based upon having 41 regular-season home dates and players in turn probably wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice any income in order to play fewer games.
The season could be stretched out a couple more weeks at the front or back end. If it came on the back end, the Finals would likely have to be played in late June and the draft and free agency periods would also have to be pushed back.
A more likely scenario would be to reduce the amount of preseason games — teams can play a maximum of eight — and start the regular season earlier in October. Once again, though, the teams and players would have to be willing to lose the revenue generated by those preseason games if they were, say, whittled to four for each club. It could also lead to more early-season injuries, with regulars playing heavier minutes with fewer preseason games to prepare.
In any case, there’s little doubt the quality of play would improve if the games were spaced out to a greater extent. This leads us to our question of the day: What would you do to make the NBA schedule less grueling and reduce the wear and tear on players?
Please take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the subject. We look forward to what you have to say.