The New Collective Bargaining Agreement Could Include An Earlier Start Date And Fewer Back-To-Backs

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Unlike 2011, most of the headlines emerging from the latest round of CBA negotiations have been optimistic in nature, with the players’ union, the league, and the owners all confident that they can get a deal done soon and avoid another work stoppage.

Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA director Michele Roberts have a much better working relationship than David Stern and Billy Hunter did last time around, and though there are many wrinkles that have to be ironed out, the new deal could include certain aspects that would be beneficial to all.

For instance, there’s been much talk about spreading out the grueling 82-game schedule a bit to reduce the number of back-to-back games, which proponents insist will result in fewer injuries and a higher-quality product on the court. Here’s more from Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

League sources say there’s a strong likelihood that the start of the 2017-18 season will be moved up a week to 10 days, which is yet another measure aimed at reducing the number of back-to-backs teams face over the course of 82 games.

We’re hearing that opening night next season is likely to fall in the Oct. 15-20 range, which would be achieved by shortening the preseason schedule from its longstanding eight-game max per team to five or six exhibition games.

The 2016-17 NBA season, to cite the most recent example, tipped off Oct. 25. Starting a week-plus earlier would give the schedule-makers even more wiggle room to cut down on the number of back-to-backs and four-games-in-five-nights stretches clubs endure.

It’s a move that just about everybody, including fans, can get behind. But the two sides still have until December 15 to opt out of the current agreement, and there are still significant topics that have to be addressed, such as the age limit for entering the league and how to divide the massive influx from the TV deals between the two parties.