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NBA is exploring radical schedule change in the summer

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community news, NBA is exploring radical schedule change in the summer

In five years as president of ESPN, John Skipper had countless conversations with NBA officials. About lengthening the playoffs. About adding teams to the playoffs. About re-seeding as early as the second round. A discussion Skipper never had substantially: Radically changing the NBA calendar.

As COVID-19, the coronavirus, spreads across the U.S., the NBA is preparing for the possibility of playing a summer schedule for the first time in league history. There is resounding ownership support for finding a way to finish the season, NBA officials told SI.com, even if that means re-starting the season in late June, even if that pushes the Finals into September. Some estimates have the NBA losing as much as $1 billion in a lost season, an eye popping number team owners desperately want to bring down.

A salvaged NBA season would benefit owners and players, as well as the thousands of in-arena workers, vendors and venues that rely on it. It would also provide the league with valuable data on the viability of a summer schedule.

Earlier this month, Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks, appearing on a panel at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, offered a detailed proposal to radically change the NBA schedule. Koonin’s proposal, first reported by ESPN, would see the start of the NBA season move from mid-October to mid-December, with the Finals taking place in August and free agency in September. The shift, Koonin argued, would take the early stage of the NBA season out of competition with the NFL and college football, while pushing its marquee program into the summer, where the sports calendar is significantly lighter.

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