NEW ORLEANS – As Chris Paul returned to the city he considers an adopted hometown, and worked his way Thursday through both his obligations as a West All-Star and several community events pegged to this showcase weekend, one thing became increasingly clear:
The All Stars need an All-Star break. Even new NBA commissioner Adam Silver thinks so.
Paul’s hectic Thursday schedule — arriving in the Big Easy at 5 a.m. after his Los Angeles Clippers’ game against Portland Wednesday night at Staples Center — was just a sample of what he faces over what essentially is a five-day commitment. Keep in mind, Paul also is the new president of the National Basketball Players Association, so he has a meeting to run Saturday afternoon squeezed in between all the basketball, commercial and charity events. Add travel time at both ends and it’s a grind.
Like folks who really cram in the fun on their vacations, some of these guys need a breather from what, for most of the league’s players, actually is a bit of R&R.
“I definitely think it’s something that should happen,” Paul told NBA.com while attending a pep rally and press conference at a New Orleans grade school, where he was inducted into the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation ambassador program.
Paul said he spoke with Silver about the possibility of a longer All-Star break.
“Obviously All-Star Weekend is all about the fans and showcasing our game to the entire world, but it would be nice to get a little break,” the Clippers guard said. “Not saying the all stars are unhappy or ungrateful for being all stars, but to enjoy your family for a couple days would be nice.”
Silver — also busy Thursday making the rounds in New Orleans, including opening the annual Jam Session at the city’s convention center — said he supports the idea. Silver also spoke about it in the offseason with other NBA players, including Miami’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
“I said, ‘We’d be happy to look into it,’ ” Silver said. “The notion is that, in addition to the All-Star Game and the events itself, there would be a break built into the schedule. Maybe we could resume play on Thursday night, later in the week, to insure that the All-Stars got time off as well.”
Matt Winick, the NBA’s senior vice president of scheduling and game operations, said Thursday that under the current agreement between the league and the players, the only provision is that teams that play on the Thursday before All-Star Weekend aren’t booked to play again until the following Wednesday. This year, that applies to Brooklyn, Chicago, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers, who were active in TNT’s doubleheader.
This season, 10 of the league’s 30 teams will have six days between their pre-break finale and their post-break opener (Phoenix, Houston, Minnesota, New Orleans, Boston, Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, Utah and Oklahoma City). Everyone else gets five days between games. No one gets a full seven.
Winick said no allowances have been made in next year’s penciled-in schedule to accommodate a longer break, but that doesn’t necessarily block an extension.
Said Silver: “I was explaining to [the players] that our buildings are so full [with other events], it’s complicated making the schedule. But it’s not impossible. It probably means pushing the season back a couple of days, but I said ‘We’re very open to it.’ I think it’s fair and guys need a break, there’s no question about it.
“The ‘All-Star Game’ turned into ‘All-Star Weekend,’ and that turned into ‘All-Star Week.’ There are enormous amounts of pressure and pull on their time. So, it seems like a very fair request and something we should address.”