On Sparks Watch Day 33, Albert Lee wrote about the practical time limit on negotiations between the WNBA and the future owners of the Sparks (if any). There is also an absolute time limit on the opening of the season. We take a look at how late the season could open.
PREFACE: Before we begin Sparks Watch 34, there might not be a Sparks Watch….36. Sue Favor had this to report on Twitter:
Rumor has it that there will be a big announcement tomorrow regarding the Los Angeles Sparks. Stay tuned here.
— Sue Favor (@hoopism) February 4, 2014
If this is true – and Sue Favor has followed the Sparks for a long time – it looks we’ll know something one way or the other by tomorrow.
I recall reading somewhere that there might be just 100 days left between now and the start of the WNBA season. Albert Lee wrote about the impact of the league being in limbo as to who will own the Sparks, and how it would impact the upcoming 2014 schedule. It seems that I can pick up where he left off by looking at historical opening days.
I am writing the rough draft of this article on February 4, 2014. This is the 35th calendar day of the year 2014. To go to the 135th calendar day of the year – 100 days later – would take us to May 15, 2014. If the WNBA season opened on May 15th, it would tie for the earliest date of a calendar year that a WNBA season has ever opened.
Beginning date of WNBA season, 1997-2013
1997: June 21 – 28 games
1998: June 11 – 30 games
1999: June 10 – 32 games
2000: May 29
2001: May 28
2002: May 25
2003: May 22 – 34 games
2004: May 20
2005: May 21
2006: May 20
2007: May 19
2008: May 17
2009: June 6
2010: May 15
2011: June 3
2012: May 18
2013: May 24
It appears that the 2014 WNBA season will open on May 15th at the earliest and about June 6th at the latest, if past history is any indication. Note that there is also the 2014 FIBA World Championship to deal with from September to October, and unlike previous season, it is doubtful that the season would take a break given how late in the year this is. This pushes the schedule to start at an earlier date, so 100 days might be correct.
So what needs to get done in the next 100 days?
* The CBA needs to be approved. It is possible that the WNBA players could decide to play without a collective bargaining agreement in place, but I see that as very unlikely. If the non-NBA owners open their books to the players, I suspect that negotiations would come to an end very quickly if things are as tight financially as we believe them to be.
* Schedules have to be drawn up. More than likely, this has already happened. The WNBA probably has two or more schedules drawn up, with the only variable being what happens in Los Angeles. (Obviously, this impacts Western Conference teams more than Eastern Conference teams.)
* Teams need time to negotiate with free agents.
* The 2014 WNBA Draft takes place sometime in April.
* There needs to be some amount of time for training camp. More than likely, the biggest stars playing in Europe or China might not be back for training camp if their overseas teams go deep into their post-seasons. But this is nothing new.
* There will probably be a perfunctory pre-season, with each team playing between zero (!) and two games.
But as we’ve all known, there is a practical upper limit on negotiations (which have passed) and an absolute limit (explained above). There comes a time where you either have to fish or cut bait, and only the WNBA knows if the fish are biting.