THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK — The shorter NBA season is on the way out.
Though the league says ratings are up and attendance will be about the same as last season, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver sees no future for a 66-game schedule.
"If you cut the season shorter, we cut our revenues significantly as well. Players would make less, so no, and I think it’s not optimal to play a condensed season in this fashion," he said Thursday.
"I think both we and the players’ union recognized that going in, but it was a compromise on both our parts to maximize the amount of salary players would get this season and to have as authentic a season as possible, sufficient number of games for competitive reasons."
The normal 82-game season wasn’t possible when owners and players couldn’t agree to a new collective bargaining agreement until Thanksgiving weekend. The sides agreed to fit in 66 games starting on Christmas, each team playing about two extra games a month.
The result has been frequent compelling matchups and tight playoff races in both conferences with a week left in what Commissioner David Stern called a "barnburner of a season" during a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors.
And though the compressed schedule has been taxing on players’ bodies, Stern said injuries are about at the same rate as a normal season. NBA President Joel Litvin said there were actually fewer injuries to top players — 35 this season for players who were All-Stars in the previous two years, down from 43 last season.
"I think it’s turned out OK," Silver said, "but again, we prefer the 82-game season to the 66-game season."
Stern said the "early returns are excellent" from the new labour deal. The league expects to lose a little money this season but predicts a profit in 2012-13 after saying it lost hundreds of millions annually every year of the old deal that was ratified in 2005.
Stern said he had nothing to add on the future of the Kings in Sacramento after a tentative deal for a new arena collapsed last week. The agreement, with the league negotiating on behalf of the Maloof family, which owns the Kings, had been reached during All-Star weekend in Orlando.
But the Maloofs said they had concerns about the terms and costs of the deal and might prefer renovating their arena. Mayor Kevin Johnson said the city wouldn’t be interested in contributing to that.
Stern said it was "unfortunate to not be able to deliver on what was a very promising situation," but that a "cooling off period" might be best.
–Stern revealed the sites of next season’s overseas exhibition games: Berlin; Istanbul; Barcelona, Spain; and Milan in Europe; and Shanghai and Beijing in China. Boston and Dallas are expected to play two games apiece in Europe.
–International expansion may be "inevitable" but not anytime soon.
–Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, the future home of the Brooklyn Nets, have signalled interest in hosting an upcoming All-Star game.
–The sale of the Hornets from the league to Saints owner Tom Benson is expected to close in May.