As the NBA continues to consider dramatic changes to the league calendar, it no longer plans to stage an owners vote in April on a formal plan, league sources told ESPN.
The NBA informed its teams on Friday that it wants to continue studying and discussing the three significant items, including an in-season tournament, a play-in tournament and the reseeding of the conference finalists, sources said. The NBA had hoped to have the two-thirds majority needed to make these changes for the 2021-22 season -- the league's 75th anniversary -- and still hopes, despite no April vote, that might happen, sources said.
The NBA has been discussing variations of these ideas with teams, the NBPA and television partners, and will continue to do so with hopes of making a presentation to the board of governors in three months.
Among the concerns, there is still no consensus on the best time for the 30-team in-season tournament that would include pool play and a knockout round. There had been momentum around a tournament starting near Thanksgiving and extending into mid-December, and there's been some recent momentum for a tournament starting around Christmas and going into mid-January, sources said.
Commissioner Adam Silver has been driving this agenda of change -- especially the in-season tournament cup modeled after European soccer -- for years. The NBA is selling the idea of lucrative television and sponsorship revenue that would drive long-term growth and combat stagnation in a rapidly splintering consumer environment.
Travel remains a primary concern for the reseeding of the Eastern and Western Conference finals, an element of the broader proposal that has the least collective support, sources said. Research has shown that travel could be increased by 60% in the conference finals with the proposal that would allow finalists in the East and West to play outside their conferences.
The prospective calendar change includes a reduction in regular-season games to 78 to accommodate the in-season tournament and play-in games, and large-market owners are concerned that the loss of those home gates could come at a net financial loss, sources said. The NBA is hopeful that a sustained plan over the long term could drive new revenue streams to mitigate those losses.