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Adam Silver Talks Reduced Regular Season Schedule, International Expansion

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The NBA Commissioner is in China this week. Sam Amick of USAToday Sports got him to open up about international travel and the sanctity of 82 games.

Tennis: U.S. Open Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA regular season schedule could fall below 82 games if certain criteria are met, potentially including international teams in Europe and China, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today Sports from Shenzhen, China, Silver says the possibility of high-speed flight may one day make overseas franchises practical for the league. In conjunction, 82-game slates may become a thing of the past.

“There’s nothing magical about 82 games,” Silver continued. “It’s been in place for 50 years, but for the long-term planning of the league, as we learn more about the human body and the wear and tear of travel and the competitive landscape ... invariably we’ll look at the regular season. And in looking at the regular season, it may create more opportunities for international franchises.”

Silver added that any such planning is long-term. He also suggests that initially, the most desirable international expansion may not flow East-West but North-South:

“We’re not looking at expansion at the moment, but at the time we do turn to expansion, just as we’ve had enormous success in Canada with the (Toronto) Raptors, we do see enormous opportunity in Mexico City and think it could become the franchise for Latin America,” Silver said.

“Mexico City is a city with over 20 million people, a country of 130 million people, and a huge Mexican American population. We’re only looking at it from a more general standpoint – and we’re playing games (there) again in Dec. (the Brooklyn Nets are playing against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 7 and the Miami Heat on Dec. 9). It’s something we’ll continue to keep eye on.”

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors are playing at Shenzhen University this week as part of their pre-season schedule.