By Ira Winderman Sun Sentinel
MIAMI — The NBA is poised to turn the All-Star break into All-Star week this coming season, the Sun Sentinel has learned, providing teams with a full week off at midseason.
The move, which would give players seven days off between games in mid-February, would result in an increase of one or two back-to-back sets per team for the coming season, a party familiar with the process said.
“That’s the model they’re using right now while they’re filling in the schedule,” an NBA source familiar with the process told the Sun Sentinel on Friday. “Could they go back and use some of those dates if needed? That’s possible. But the week off looks like what’s going to happen.”
The release of the 2014-15 NBA schedule has been pushed back into August to allow the league’s television partners to adjust for the dramatic shakeup created by free agency, including the shift of LeBron James from the Miami Heat to Cleveland Cavaliers.
With the elongated All-Star break, the possibility of then starting the 2015-16 season a week earlier also has been deliberated recently, although that dynamic has yet to gain traction, according to an NBA source familiar with the situation, with such a move potentially requiring an adjustment in the collective-bargaining agreement.
“And then,” the NBA source said, “we’d have to look at dates already committed to on the (2015) preseason schedule.”
Players in recent seasons have spoken of a desire for additional time off at midseason, particularly those who participate in All-Star weekend, which has grown into a three-day event when counting the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, the league’s skills competitions on All-Star Saturday, and then the Sunday night NBA All-Star Game.
Teams currently are given a five-day layoff during the All-Star break, with one of those days a mandated return to practice. Still being finalized is when players would be required to report back to their teams during the break.
The league in recent years has worked to reduce the number of games scheduled on consecutive nights, but a weeklong All-Star break would push the number of back-to-back sets closer to what they had been in previous years.
For the upcoming season, the extended All-Star break, which actually would come about three weeks beyond the midpoint of the 82-game regular-season schedule, would not impact the overall schedule calendar.
The 2014-15 NBA regular-season is scheduled to begin on Oct. 28 and conclude on April 15, with the 2015 playoffs beginning on April 18.
Commissioner Adam Silver hinted at the possibility of such a change during this past season’s All-Star Weekend.
“That’s something I’ve heard directly from the players on,” Silver said in February. “They’re saying that if we, if they could get a few more days off around All Star — especially the All Stars, I think, who, as we all know, are so busy over the course of these few days — it would be helpful to them to get some additional rest.
“Of course our season is so concentrated right now, that will require us to push back the season a few days. So we’ll continue to look at it. It’s an awfully long season right now. So I’m not sure we want to go too much longer. But we’ll look at it.”
All-Star weekend is scheduled for Feb. 13-15 in New York, with the events split between Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, and Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.