NBA might be headed for competitive imbalance with postponements
As the postponed games pile up, the idea of all the teams finishing the 72-game schedule is becoming a pipe dream.
It’s a traffic jam only those on the Dan Ryan at 5 p.m. could appreciate.
Entering play Monday, 11 teams in the Eastern Conference were separated by three games in the standings. That’s not a big deal this early in the season, but considering that eight of those teams — including the Bulls — are relatively equal in talent and that all of those could make an argument to make the playoffs, every game could carry weight.
The problem is, the coronavirus pandemic will make it very difficult for every team to reach 72 games. That means winning percentage might be the deciding factor for play-in and playoff seedings.
Might this pose a competitive imbalance? Definitely. But Bulls coach Billy Donovan said it’s part of a new landscape.
‘‘It’s probably what we signed up for [by playing this season],’’ Donovan said Monday. ‘‘I know these games that have been postponed, the league is trying to find ways to reschedule. But I think even if you look at our schedule right now, coming out of this week and going into February, I think we’ve got 17 games in 31 days. So I don’t know where they reschedule some of these games.
‘‘I think they’d like to do that to make it as fair as possible, to try and get to as close to 72 as they possibly can. But you’re going to probably have a little bit of an imbalanced number of games scheduled, winning percentage, all those things. It’s kind of what everybody signed up for.’’
The Bulls have had two games postponed so far, but the Grizzlies and Wizards are each up to six.
The NBA purposely didn’t release a second-half schedule, so that they could make allowances for postponed games. But it’s not even February yet, and the postponements are piling up.
‘‘I think the league will try and make it as fair as possible,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Obviously, there’s play-in games and those kinds of situations, but I don’t know if I’ve gotten any information on what the plan is on some of these teams missing so many games that they can’t make them all up and now you’ve got an imbalanced schedule. Where does that leave the league at the end of the year in terms of how do they make it fair for everybody? I’m not really sure what they do there.’’
According to an ESPN report, the NBA and the players’ union are in discussions to hold an All-Star Game after all, with the hope it will be scheduled in early March. Atlanta has emerged as a likely site.
The Associated Press reported the game might benefit historically Black colleges and universities and COVID-19 relief efforts.
The NBA initially canceled the All-Star Game this season, but it scheduled a midseason break for March 5-10. While the parties would love to make it happen, coaches want to make sure their players are as safe as possible.
As Donovan pointed out, however, the break might lead to headaches with or without an All-Star Game.
‘‘If there’s not an All-Star Game and there’s a week off . . . what’s going to be the criteria?’’ Donovan asked. ‘‘Because you can have players all around the league leaving their market and going places and coming back and potentially bringing the virus back in. So I really haven’t had much of a conversation of what that’s going to look like.’’