NBA: Adam Silver shifts the schedule to better suit the players

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver attends the 2017 NBA Awards live on TNT on June 26, 2017 in New York, New York. 27111_003 (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for TNT)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: Commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver attends the 2017 NBA Awards live on TNT on June 26, 2017 in New York, New York. 27111_003 (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for TNT) /

NBA commissioner Adam Silver makes the necessary decision to shift the schedule in order to better suit the players

Give Adam Silver credit; when something doesn’t smell quite right in the NBA, he takes out the garbage.

His latest move to save the league, hyperbole aside, is softening the NBA schedule. The move aims to counteract a growing trend of coaches resting players. More specifically, coaches resting elite players during marquee games.

The clearest example might be the way the league scheduled the Golden State Warriors, ensuring that their fresh stars will be penciled in the lineup on game day. The Warriors were the league’s most televised team last year with five primetime games (on ABC). But four of those matchups were part of a back-to-back set. But this year, Golden State is scheduled to play six games on ABC with none of those as part of a back-to-back.

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The league is also limiting the number of back-to-back games. The number of two straight games has been trimmed from 16.3 to 14.4 per team, marking a record low in the NBA for a third straight season. And the big change, the four games and five days have been stamped out of the league for good. There were 70 such stretches in 2014-2015.

To fit the schedule inside a nice, concise six-month period, the season will tip off on October 17th with a double header. Usually the league’s first games are played closer to Halloween. Twenty years ago, most teams started their seasons days into November.

Each move was necessary to reduce the trend of players resting. The common thread of sitting players is obvious; stars rest on back-to-back games and throughout long stretches of games during later months. The hope is reduce wear and tear on the athletes as they approach the season’s stretch run.

Silver didn’t make these decisions with haste. The moves were calculated and carefully considered. Thoughts of changes have been brewing in the NBA commissioners mind since early spring, when he dubbed player rest and health “the biggest issue in the NBA.” He admitted to not wanting to micromanage, but said change was needed.

His breaking point came as the debate over player rest reached a feverish pitch, when both the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs sat their stars, followed by a LeBron James-less Cavs game airing in primetime. Fans were in a tizzy, while teams brushed off the criticism. Silver sent out a frustrated memo to the league shortly thereafter.

Laying out the changes, ending the brutal four-games in five nights stretches will have the most impact. Yes, teams usually only encountered one or two such stretches during the season. But clumps of games can cripple a squad for weeks, forcing coaches to overuse stars, potentially leading to fatigue and comparatively poor play. The overall NBA product will benefit from the elimination

Slotting teams into prime-time games on the second night in a back-to-back just seems like a dumb idea in the first place. With the increased physicality and speed of the NBA, it just seems like the league would have foreseen an increased need to rest players coming. But in this case, better late than never.

And although it’s somewhat uncomfortable to see regular season basketball on in mid-October (to me, that is still baseball and football’s time) it’ll help expand the NBA’s strengthening grip on the year-round sports race.

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Over the past few years, the idea of resting players has almost become commonplace. Even after the Spurs were drilled with a $250,000 fine for the practice. At the time, a fine was all the league could do. This time Silver altered the NBA scheduled. He made it “rest proof.” So the next time a coach sits a player for a game in the name of rest, they’re full of it.