Although the NBA’s 82-game regular season is only around half as long as the 162 games played by each team in Major League Baseball, it still represents a heavy workload, even on some of the best basketball players in the world. As such, many teams have taken to resting their star players to avoid the risk of injuries and to keep them fresh for more important games. With the prevalence of this trend in mind, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the league might explore the idea of shortening its regular season.
As quoted by Bleacher Report, Silver commented about the possibility of a shorter NBA season during an interview with the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., as he suggested that the league would likely be in favor of such an idea if “legitimate resting of players” leads to them being “healthier” when playoff action begins.
“We may need to revisit the number of games in the season,” Silver added. “Because maybe in the modern NBA, we’ve had an 82-game season for roughly 50 years. And maybe it’s too many games on the player’s bodies.”
Silver’s recent remarks echoed his comments last month about the length of the NBA’s regular season, as the NBA’s official website noted that he discussed the topic in detail after the league’s Board of Governors had its spring meeting. After acknowledging that it could be a difficult task to deal with teams that are seeking guidelines on how to rest their top players ahead of the postseason, Silver said that the league is looking at multiple solutions to its “load management” problem, including shorter seasons and shorter games.
At the present, the NBA is against the concept of teams asking players to sit out games while healthy and has rules that could penalize teams if they have one of their stars sit out during a nationally televised game, as noted by Bleacher Report. But it isn’t just playoff teams that tend to rest players, as the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers shut down their respective superstars — Anthony Davis and LeBron James — for the season when it became clear that they would be missing the playoffs.
On the other hand, Bleacher Report pointed out that resting players to ensure their postseason health could be a “valuable strategy,” as evidenced by the Toronto Raptors’ approach with Kawhi Leonard after they acquired him from the San Antonio Spurs last summer. Leonard, who missed all but nine games last season due to injuries, played in only 60 of the Raptors’ 82 regular-season games in the 2018-19 campaign and is now averaging over 31 points and eight rebounds in the playoffs.