It’s been a wish of fans for ages: Why not start the season in December and run it into the summer?
Those fans may get their wish — whether or not the NBA returns to play this season.
There is support for this idea among owners and executives, there was a lengthy discussion of it among the owners on Friday’s Board of Governor’s call.
The idea of pushing back the season was something Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin pitched from the stage at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in March — just days before the league was shut down following Rudy Gobert‘s positive test for the coronavirus. Koonin’s idea was to stop having the first third of the NBA season compete head-to-head with the NFL.
The coronavirus-forced stoppage in play brings two more reasons to push back the start of next season.
First, it gives more time for the NBA to complete this season, still a primary goal of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the owners. They want to crown a champion, but the league may need to play into September to do that.
Second, as Wojnarowski mentioned, it makes it more likely there are fans in arenas for NBA games next season. That may or may not happen in December, but the longer the league can delay the start of next season, the more games fans will be able to attend.
This shift also comes with challenges. At the top of the list, 22 of the regional sports networks that carry NBA teams also carry a local MLB team, and games would overlap from April into June or July. There are questions about how good ratings will be in the summer. The NBA season would no longer line up with either the college or European seasons, which could complicate matters for players wanting to test the draft waters. There are other hurdles to clear, as well.
However, if the ratings are good, the league may be willing to try this schedule for a couple of years and see if it works.
Some players have pushed back on this plan new schedule saying they like having their summers off (especially players with families, so that dad and the kids are both off at the same time). However, if it means more money, players will listen, Jared Dudley said.