Mark Cuban backs spaced-out sked

DALLAS -- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the NBA is seriously considering altering the schedule to go later into the summer as a means of reducing or potentially eliminating back-to-back games.

"I've been bringing it up for years," Cuban said before the Mavs' 99-92 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, one of three games in four nights for his team. "[Commissioner Adam Silver is] more open to it, and he's going to be considering it. Everybody's for it now."

NBA teams typically have between 16 and 20 back-to-backs per season, an element of the schedule almost universally despised by players, particularly veterans. Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James voiced their opinion during the preseason that the league should reduce the number of games in the schedule to ease wear and tear on players.

Silver addressed the issue during his All-Star weekend news conference.

"The question is towards the end of this season, can we push a little bit further in June closer to the draft?" he said. "I think there had been discussions well, I wouldn't characterize them as discussions. I've heard proposals about them moving The Finals past the Fourth of July. Generally the view has been in addition it just feels out of sync once you get into the summer historically those haven't been viewed as the best television nights, once you get into July, and just in terms of households watching TV.

"I will say maybe that's something we should look at, too. If we're truly going to take a fresh look at this, we have to examine what the appropriate time is to begin the season and when we should end it."

The NBA owners would prefer to continue playing an 82-game schedule. However, Cuban said there has been significant discussion about adding a week or two to the schedule to provide more rest time for players and practice time for teams, theoretically improving the product.

Cuban is optimistic that the league can completely eliminate teams playing four games in five nights, which often leads to coaches opting to have veteran players sit out a game.

Cuban said the owners and league officials have discussed the possibility of shortening the preseason and starting the season earlier.

"I'd rather us go later in the season into July," said Cuban, who still is in favor of trimming the preseason schedule. "Used to be, we had to be concerned about baseball. Now we don't. Baseball, particularly from a media perspective, has become regional, so it doesn't negatively impact us from a national TV perspective to go late."