Adam Silver said the NBA will evaluate whether a shorter season will improve their product.
Over the past few days, many playoff teams have strategically rested players either for actual rest or in an attempt to manipulate the seeding of the playoffs.
“I'm never quite comfortable where things are at,” said Silver.
“I think especially over that last week, you can imagine there's a fair amount of angst in the league office.”
Teams had been “calling our general counsel Rick Buchanan or calling Mark Tatum or calling me.”
Said Silver: “There aren't always bright-line answers we can give them. We always have one eye, too, that we know that the playoffs are what this is all about. So we don't want to end up forcing a team to do something silly when it could cause issues in terms of health for the most important part of the season.”
The NBA could shorten the season or have an in-season tournament similar to soccer.
“Those are all things we're looking at,” Silver said. “They're not the kinds of format changes you're going to make without lots and lots of deliberation."
The NBA would be unlikely to implement any changes for another five or six years.
“Sometimes it's science, but sometimes it's art,” Silver said. “I think a fair point from fans could be if ultimately the science suggests that 82 games is too many games for these players, maybe you shouldn't have an 82-game season. I accept that, and that's something we'll continue to look at.”
The NBA has traditionally had an 82-game season, but it's unlikely they would choose that number in 2019 if they were building the league from scratch.
“We and the players have a common interest in maximizing viewership and maximizing interest,” the commissioner said. “The format we have in place now… I'm a traditionalist on one hand, but on the other hand it's 50 years old or so, presenting an 82-game season, and there's nothing magical about it.”