Add three games to the NBA regular season.
Think about the arithmetic. 50% of 82 games is 41. 51.5% of 85 games is 41.225. If the players went in with this offer, how could the NBA owners refuse? They would be getting basketball revenue from a greater number of games. To be sure, a lot of the revenue comes from TV deals and such that wouldn’t increase with the number of games (at least until those deals expire and get renegotiated). But much of the incoming cash streams in from on-site revenue sources like tickets, concessions and parking — bumping up the number of dates means more for all.
1) Keep the balance. 85 games is an odd number, but the number of home and road games will still be an equal 41 apiece. The solution? Each team will play three neutral site games to round out the schedule.
2) Make it interesting. Holy seabiscuits, Batman, does this league ever need a little pick-me-up. Choose the correct games and the fun factor will follow. In addition to giving the league a badly needed boost, putting the right teams in the right places makes money. The league knows how to pick these games; they already do it for the preseason schedule (which, oddly enough, still sitson the NBA’s site). Bring Steve Nash and the Suns up to Vancouver. Send the Lakers to Anaheim or better yet, to Las Vegas. Let the Knicks and Celtics battle it out in Hartford, or bring Sacramento and Portland to Eugene
— setting up rivalries in cities bordering two geographic fan bases.
Aside from ideas already on the NBA preseason slate, there are other possibilities, too. Pack up four perennial lottery dwellers and ship them out for a three-game, round-robin junket through Madrid, Athens, and Vilnius. Put a Portland game in <gasp> Seattle and let Seattleites choose whether to cheer or jeer the Blazers.
For the Bucks, how about a matchup with the Pistons in Grand Rapids or Green Bay? Or more ambitiously, a game with the Timberwolves in Winnipeg?
The possibilities are so easy. Be creative and make fun matchups; the money will follow.
3) Sacrifice preseason games to make up part of the difference. This year’s cancelled preseason was slated to contain 114 games before it got axed. That’s an average of 7.6 games per team. To conserve days on the calendar, as well as the stamina and interest of all involved parties, the number of preseason games could easily be shortened to 6 games per team. Revenue is still being added by having the arenas full an extra day or two, plus the fact that regular season games will generate better income than the preseason dates did.
4) End the neutral site games by December 25. MLB has a similar plan in place for its interleague games. Since the games hold a few extra quirks, they need to end before the pennant races of August and September. The NBA could do the same for its neutral site games to keep everyone happy (and silence most of the critics). There is no need to hold court on a neutral site for the penultimate or final game of the season, especially for a team making a run at the playoffs. Plus, the games getting the biggest interest-level boost from this plan would be the ones held during football season — another small victory for the NBA.
5) Is it a perfectly-level playing field? Heck no, but it’s not supposed to be. Not much about the NBA schedule really is. Some teams have more back-to-backs than others. Some teams have 10-game road trips, while others have 6-gamers. Some conference rivals face each other three times; others meet four times. It’s irregular now and it will continue to be irregular later. Half the playoff teams are a lock before the regular season even starts, so make that regular season into as entertaining an exercise as possible.
6) Start with the 2012-13 regular season. The players and owners are slowly bleeding this season to death, and by the time they get around to making a deal, the time for adding games to a recreated schedule will have past. Add the neutral site games for the following season and use any scheduling flexibility to make choices that create the best possible games.
Ideas? Concerns? Pick up on a crucial flaw? Let me know in the comments section.