The NBA has delayed releasing the 2014-2015 regular season schedule until mid-August. A principle reason why the schedule has been delayed is due to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver plans to possibly extend the All-Star break to seven days. This plan may come at a cost, as the NBA still needs to have the same end date for the end of the season. In turn, league officials will have to figure out a way to open up the break without overworking its players throughout the regular season.
An All-Star break, which is headlined by a three-day event each year where key players participate in a plethora of events, has barely served as a break for many of the league’s finest athletes. In many cases, the All-Star break can often be more work for a player than regular season games, especially for the star players whom the event surrounds. Between dealing with the media, and possibly performing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the NBA’s largest event of the year can take its toll on a player. This is why during the 2014 All-Star Weekend, LeBron James spoke to Silver and stated that it is only a break for non-All-Stars. Furthermore, James said that it would benefit the league if the break was extended to cater the top players.
Evidently, through the actions that are taking place, Silver is taking James’ suggestions by going through the steps to implement a week-long break. The NBA schedulers are currently plotting out the season with this break in mind. This does not mean, however, that next year’s All-Star break will be a week long. In order for this idea to become a reality, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has to sign off on the format. Before it can be finalized into the NBA schedule, the union must appoint a new executive director to replace Billy Hunter, who was fired during All-Star weekend in 2013. The decision for the new executive director should come within the next few days, after a player vote is conducted on Monday.
Once the NBPA picks their new leader, there is no guarantee that this new All-Star break format will take place. With Silver and the NBA wanting to have a similar end date to the season as previous years, adjustments would have to be made to the schedule to facilitate this week-long break. These tweaks would most likely be in the form of more back-to-back games to ensure a reasonable end date. While this All-Star break will help the top stars in the league, the extension to seven days may come at a cost due to a slightly more intense schedule during the regular season. While it would not be as intense as the schedule for the 2011 lockout season, which had a 66-game schedule that started on Christmas Day, it would still be an intensified workload.
Unlike the lockout season, teams would not have to suffer through three games in a row like they did in 2011. The schedule would have to be re-configured by increasing back-to-backs by one or two more times during the season. While an additional grouping of back-to-backs may not be the worst thing for players, it may prove to cancel out the necessity of a week-long break. With a league that continues to see its players succumb to injuries on an already frequent basis, a simple change like including a couple more back-to-backs may only increase the frequency of injuries.
If a new idea such as a longer All-Star break is put into place to allow more rest to the NBA’s top stars, maybe the league needs to consider another way to organize the schedule. Instead of adding more back-to-back games, it might be more beneficial to either start training camp and the preseason a few days earlier. Another way is if the league cut a few games from the preseason and replace them with regular-season games. This scenario would allow All-Stars to get their longer mid-season break without grinding through more back-to-back games, while also keeping the postseason schedule intact.
It is the All-Stars who are the reason there is a break midway through the regular season. Unfortunately, it is those same players who are unable to get the sufficient rest they need during the break. If Silver and the NBPA elect to extend the break of its players, particularly the All-Stars, to seven days, while it may look good to its players on the outset, the NBA would have to enact a change of schedule at a cost to its players’ health. Giving All-Stars a break, in addition to the role players, will likely seem appealing. Unless the season is given an earlier start, this new addition to the schedule could prove itself to be pointless and, potentially, more damaging to the players. As a result, it may not be the most efficient idea of Commissioner Adam Silver’s short tenure.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey