With the Sparks situation continuing on into February, will this potentially affect the WNBA season’s scheduling?
First, before hitting today’s topic, I’ll just talk about yesterday’s topic very briefly. I am sorry if what I wrote regarding the Super Bowl was insensitive on women’s basketball. It won’t happen again.
Now, with scheduling and the regular season. The WNBA release the 2009 through 2011 seasons about five months in advance, and often released those days before the Christmas holiday. After that, the time frame has dropped significantly.
There is also something important to note here. In 2010 and 2012, the season, began before May 20, which can be attributed to the 2010 FIBA World Championships and the 2012 Olympics respectively. This leads me to assume that this year, the season should start before May 20 as well. The FIBA World Championships this year will be held from September 27 to October 5. That would mean that Game 5 of the WNBA Finals should be held at least two or three days before then. Basically, time’s running short assuming that the league wants to have a complete season (regular season to the Finals) in that timeframe.
We know that the 2014 All-Star Game will be in Phoenix on July 19. This date would ideally be in the midpoint of the season and that further supports the notion that the season would start closer to May 15 than May 31, and with Game 5 of the Finals ending a couple days or so before the start of the 2014 FIBA World Championships.
So, is there a chance that the start of the 2014 WNBA season could be delayed, or perhaps could the WNBA Finals be held in mid-October after the FIBA World Championships, especially in light of the Sparks’ situation?
Let’s tackle the first question on a possible delay to the 2014 regular season. Let’s ignore schedule release dates for a second. The WNBA, like any other league is planning its regular season way before three months before the regular season. And, depending on whatever is going on with the Sparks, it is possible that the team is handling its scheduling with the assumption that the Sparks will be staying in LA, so it could be business as usual. It’s just that there is no schedule right now to the public.
Also, it is possible that Joe Lacob and the Warriors could have been trying to clear dates over the last couple weeks in order to fit a timeframe from the regular season in mid May until the Finals in mid September. But otherwise, given how close we are to the regular season, it is looking really difficult to see Joe Lacob own the team and relocate it to the Bay Area this season. We are just cutting it too close, unless the scheduling gods are going to compress the total time frame of the season so that more games are played during the weekdays, and teams have more back-to-backs. But players may not want a regular season with many games crammed together, which also can increase the chances of players getting injured, especially in a FIBA World Championship year.
As for the second question, could we see the WNBA Finals held after the FIBA World Championships? On one hand, here are the merits for having it happen then. It could add some buildup period between the Conference Finals and the Finals. And in addition, the timing of the Finals still wouldn’t overlap with the NBA regular season which begins at around Halloween, even if the Finals ended as late as October 20 or so. This also could allow for the season to start in June as well, and if Lacob still is a favorite candidate by the league to own the Sparks, this buys him some extra time.
However, I find it unlikely. First, WNBA players for the most part play overseas where they are often paid more than their teams in the US, so they may want to just report to their teams abroad as soon as they can. And also, while we have a precedent for the WNBA season having an Olympic break midseason, we do not have a precedent for the season, and in this case, the postseason, being delayed for international competitions. Then again, who knows?
That’s all I have on scheduling concerns and the WNBA regular season schedule. Do you think that the Sparks situation will negatively impact the WNBA schedule, and if so, how? Let us know in the comments below!