NBA Rumor: NBA Schedule

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Daryl Morey suggests one-and-done format in the playoffs

Cowherd suggested cutting the season from 82 games to 74, and making the first round of the playoffs best-of-five instead of the current seven. Morey raised and went all in. “You’re too timid, but you gotta go farther,” Morey said. “I like 58. Every team plays every [other] team two times. The playoffs, I 100 percent agree, shorter is better.” This is when Morey offered a truly eye-popping proposal. “I would have it one-and-done,” he said. “There’s a reason everyone tunes into every game at huge ratings in the NFL. It is literally one-and-done. And the NCAA Tournament, in 63 games, gets more money than we do in our entire regular season.

For the 2021-22 NBA season, the league is looking forward to getting back to normal. And for the seventh year, the duties of making the NBA schedule were entrusted to a team led by Tom Carelli, senior VP of game schedule management, and Evan Wasch, executive VP of basketball strategy and analytics. Carelli first started at the NBA in 1990, working with the league’s network broadcast partners before transitioning into scheduling full time. Wasch has been with the NBA since 2011. Together, the tandem spent time with The Athletic to discuss a variety of subjects related to the upcoming season’s schedule, with Carelli specializing in arena availability and national television and Wasch specializing in the analytics of the schedule, back-to-backs and travel. “Luckily, we have the help of this computer, a very powerful computer system that is literally revealing billions of possible schedules,” Wasch says. “It only shows us the ones that best meet the objectives that we set into it. … That’s the first draft, and then we iterate from there.”

The NBA also color codes potential back-to-backs in terms of potential miles and airport/hotel access between cities. The metric denotes green for regularly accepted, standard back-to-backs; yellow for an increased difficulty but still acceptable; and red for unacceptable and prohibited. “What we did a number of years ago, really when Tom and I started this process, is we went to color code every single potential back-to-back that there is, based on not just how many miles between the two cities but how difficult it is to get out of one,” Wasch said. “A great example is, historically, there were a lot of Portland-to-Denver back-to-backs scheduled, and teams just kept telling us how unbelievably difficult that was. Because it turned out that it’s a long flight, you lose an hour of time, the Denver airport is far from downtown, altitude, all that. So now that’s coded as a red back-to-back in our system, and the schedule won’t allow it.”

The national television part of the schedule is the backbone of the regular season. A source of optimism this upcoming season is that the league had a good problem of trying to maximize the breakthrough teams from the 2021 postseason. Exactly half of the league (15 teams) is scheduled to have 10 or more nationally televised games next season. “We probably have more marquee-type teams, I would say, to put into national TV windows than we’ve had in the years that I’ve been doing this,” Carelli said. “We have a lot of teams that are going to be exciting teams, are going to be teams that people want to watch, the players that people want to watch. A team like Atlanta and a team like Phoenix for example, who going into last year, probably wouldn’t have been in that basket. But now, you know, are going to be playing games on Christmas and featured in a lot of our tentpole games and featured in national TV games.”

The big difference in the new season is that they appear on the schedule far more infrequently. There will be just 23 two-game sets leaguewide, to be exact, compared to 84 in 2020-21. The reduction, I’m told, was a matter of shifting priorities in the league office. The priority last season was reducing travel and specifically flights, which was the inspiration for the league’s sudden embrace of the two-game series in the same venue that had for so long been taboo. With no ticket sales in numerous arenas for much of the season and so many more arena dates available with concerts and other events on hold, scheduling two-game sets was also much easier.

Celtics retiring Kevin Garnett's number on March 13th

The Celtics will retire Kevin Garnett’s No. 5 on March 13 following their game against Jason Kidd’s Dallas Mavericks. Perfect timing after Paul Pierce said last year that Garnett nearly came to blows with the Nets legend when he was Garnett’s coach in Brooklyn. Garnett’s Boston jersey retirement is happening before Minnesota’s, where he spent 14 seasons but had a falling out with outgoing team governor Glen Taylor.

Play-In Tournament officially back for the 2021-22 season

The NBA Board of Governors today approved a proposal to continue the Play-In Tournament for the 2021-22 season. The Play-In Tournament for the 2021-22 season, which was also agreed to by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), will follow the same format as the Play-In Tournament for the 2020-21 season. The teams that finish the regular season with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will compete to fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.

Below are some key dates for the 2021-22 season. • Aug. 2: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents (6 p.m. ET) • Aug. 6: Teams can begin signing free agents (12:01 p.m. ET) • Aug. 8-17: MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas • Sept. 28, 2021: Training camp begins • Oct. 19, 2021: Regular season begins • April 10, 2022: Regular season concludes • April 12-15, 2022: Play-In Tournament • April 16, 2022: Playoffs begin • June 2, 2022: NBA Finals begin • June 19, 2022: Game 7 of NBA Finals (if necessary) • June 23, 2022: NBA Draft

Sources said the league disagrees that the schedule or short offseason has increased injuries or wear and tear on players or that it has limited the amount of time for rest and recovery. Citing internal data, the league says injuries rate similarly to last season. Officials note that in a normal calendar year, teams play 82 games and return after 14 weeks off. Over this two-year period, the average team played 20 fewer games than it would’ve played in such a stretch and had an additional two months off. Of course, those numbers don’t take into account the complicating factors wrought by the pandemic, such as early testing times or other elements tied to COVID-19 protocols.

Among the questions that the league likely still needs to address to teams: Could franchises be assured — especially those in big markets — that there wouldn’t be gate revenue losses by shortening the regular season to 78 games to accommodate the tournament? Some teams had been hesitant to incur short-term losses on potentially losing two home dates, especially when those games had been worth anywhere between $2.5 million and $4 million in pre-pandemic times.
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7 hours ago via ESPN