The 44-minute NBA preseason game — four minutes less than a regulation contest — between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics is an experiment.
This is only a test for the National Basketball Association. Forty-four minute games are not imminent, NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.
But likewise, the NBA’s willingness to explore the impact of shortened game should not be minimized. The league doesn’t make these moves lightly, and there’s a chance the NBA will experiment with 44-minute games next preseason and in the NBA Development League, which is often used a testing ground for new concepts.
“We have looked at everything that we do and are taking a fresh look at all the different things we do,” Thorn said. “One of the things that keeps coming up is our schedule and the length of our games. … Our coaches talked about it, and a lot of them seemed to be in favor of at least taking a look at it. We talked with our competition committee, and they were in favor of taking a look at it.”
On Twitter, the barometer in which public opinion is often measured today, there was support and opposition to the idea.
The dissenters had these refrains:
• The minutes don’t need to be reduced. It’s fine the way it is.
• Cut back on the number of regular-season games played — instead of an 82-game season, play 70.
• The reduced minutes will impact reserves, limiting their time on the court and possibly affecting how they are paid.
A shorter regular season is highly unlikely because it cuts into ticket revenue, which is shared by players and owners. Also, the league just reached a nine-year, $24 billion TV deal — also shared by both sides — and that amount is based on the number of games the networks can televise each season.
Unless both sides are interested in making less money, a shorter season is not happening.
Now, the NBA, coaches and the competition committee will watch minutes played per player. One thought is that it would reduce the number of minutes played which would eliminate miles on a player not only during the season but over the course of a career.
If the NBA played 44-minute games for an 82-game season, it would eliminate about seven games worth of a minutes from a regular season which would be a nod to reducing player minutes without eliminating games. However, that doesn’t mean a coach would play certain players fewer minutes.