Where to start, where to start?
Eliminate tanking or erase the U.S. debt? Resolve the Seattle dilemma or cure the common cold? Change the schedule or the weather?
Adam Silver took over as commissioner on Saturday with a lot of pressure, though at least a lot of free advice from the rest of the world, a fact that no doubt made him so, so happy. You’re welcome.
Several prominent figures around the league chipped in as part of a Bleacher Report suggestion box to coincide with Silver replacing David Stern. Some were good thoughts worth debating and maybe even seriously consider. (Others: eh. One section was titled “Figure out the situations in Seattle and Sacramento” without sound words dispensed on exactly how to close the distance between hope and actual in Seattle. Plus, the situation in Sacramento is well down the path to being figured out.)
From Ray Allen of the Heat: “I would give, some way, every team a bye week. Between a bye week and making All-Star weekend an All-Star week. Because the problem I see with the league is there’s fatigue, and guys end up getting injuries. There should be a window where guys can have time off. We say All-Star weekend, but if you’re competing, you never get the opportunity to have time off, because All-Star weekend is jam-packed with activity. And it puts the guys that are playing or competing in such a quandary, because now you don’t want to do certain things, and you want to go on vacation. So if you make it a week, I think you almost get full participation of players.”
Participation at All-Star weekend isn’t an issue because rules are already in place to, um, encourage that, but point taken. The schedule is an issue, there is little chance teams will give up games/money, and so something else must be done. Playing four times in five nights, an accepted necessity these days, hurts the product on the court.
It would mean starting the season sooner because simply shoe-horning in a league-wide bye week in the current calendar would create more games jammed together, not solve the problem. Giving teams different weeks off potentially creates problems – getting the bye close to the playoffs is a huge advantage – and there couldn’t be anything like four teams idle at the same time because scheduling is tough enough with 29 choices for an opponent. But breathing room would be nice.
Agent David Falk: “In the long term, (an idea that) David Stern shared with me many years ago was that at some point in time, the NBA will start the season right after the Super Bowl…and go through the baseball All-Star Game. Play about 60 games. And at that point in time, the season will end. And then you’ll start another season in Europe. You’ll have 25, 30 teams in Europe, in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Milan, Amsterdam, Athens, Paris. And if you are a young Kevin Durant and you want to play all year round and get paid for it, you’ll play both venues. If you are Kevin Garnett and you want to win one more championship with Kobe Bryant, you’re only going to play one of those venues. …”
Very interesting. But it’s not going to happen. Negotiating the new TV deals with the different networks is the major issue in front of Silver, and the league is not going to give up that many games, just as owners don’t want to lose the gate, for the uncertainty of what may or may not come of the Europe gamble.
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins: “What I’d like to see changed is the amount of time that we are able to work with our players during the offseason. Obviously this is something that would need to be collectively bargained with the players association, but I think it is something that would benefit both the players and the teams. As it stands now, from a few days after the season ends until the start of training camp, there are no official or organized workouts with the players. This is unlike the NFL, which has offseason workouts and mini-camps.
“As a result, you can go up to five months without seeing some of your players since anything they do with teams in the offseason is voluntary. It would help players with their physical conditioning, as well as their on-court basketball skills if there was more opportunity to work with them. …”
While going that long without connecting with a player if the team wants to is a rarity – assistant coaches and trainers routinely travel the world to spend time with players at home in the offseason – the idea has a lot of merit. It could lead to improved quality of play. Good luck getting the union to go along.
TNT analyst Steve Kerr, a former player and general manager: “I would hope the owners wouldn’t be shy about going to the players union and saying: Hey, let’s change the draft rule. Let’s make it the baseball rule, or let’s do two years instead of one. Let’s work together so that players come into this league more prepared. And in return we’ll give you guys this. We’ll concede on these issues that will help you make more money or that will help the guys who stay for two years, who come out of college, maybe their rookie scale goes up. … The idea obviously is that they’ve got to be better prepared. I mean, the fact that the No. 1 pick in the draft (Anthony Bennett) can’t even get on the floor, that’s pretty scary. And if you look at the last few years, so few rookies have actually made an impact. And that’s worrisome.”
Discussion on the age limit appears inevitable, with reasonable cases to be made for raising the standard or keeping it in place or even, in an unlikely outcome, going back to the old system that U.S. players could enter the draft out of high school. It is an issue before Silver one way or another.