NBA delays planned April vote on schedule changes: report

New York (AFP)


The NBA doesn't plan to vote on major schedule changes at an April team owners meeting, but still hopes to install them by the league's 75th anniversary in 2021, ESPN reported Friday.

Citing unnamed sources, the sports television network's website said the league informed clubs on Friday that it will study and talk over such changes as an in-season tournament modeled after European football, reseeding of playoff teams in the conference finals and a play-in tournament to expand the post-season beyond 16 of its 30 clubs.

The NBA needs a two-thirds majority of owners to implement changes ahead of the 2021-22 season. The league has talked over variations of the plans with the players union and telecasters and will do so with hopes of making a presentation to team owners in April even without plans for a vote.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has backed the in-season tournament for years. But deciding a time for the event has been a sticking point, with late November to mid-December and Christmas into mid-January as ideas, according to ESPN.

The NBA would trim the regular season from 82 games per club to 78 to allow room on the calendar for the in-season event and play-in games, where lower-finishing clubs could compete for the final spots in a playoff field of 16.

Some team owners are concerned about financial losses from having two fewer home games, but the NBA figures new revenue streams -- such as an event sponsor and higher broadcast rights fees for the in-season event and extra play-in games -- could more than offset any lost game revenues.

Another worry is extra travel should the reseed for the NBA conference finals among the last four teams send East and West squads against each other before the NBA Finals.

Reasearch has shown travel could increase by 60 percent if the East and West teams played outside their conference in the semi-final round -- with no guarantee of easier travel in the best-of-seven championship series.