Cincinnati: Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James and German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki say the league needs to look at shortening its 82-game per club regular-season schedule.
Both players spoke out this week in the wake of the league planning an exhibition game that lasts only 44 minutes instead of the usual 48.
James and Nowitzki say it's the length of the season, not the games in it, that causes troubles, and they would both be willing to take less money.
"Less games is less concessions and less tickets and all that, but at the end of the day we want to protect the prize, and the prize is the players," James said on Wednesday. "If guys are being injured because there's so many games, we can't promote it at a high level."
Indiana star Paul George will miss the upcoming season after breaking his leg in a scrimmage for the US team that went on to win the Basketball World Cup, while five-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City is out at least two months with a broken foot.
"I'm not saying it's because of the amount of games, but anything will help," James said of the physical stress on players.
James does not see trimming four minutes from every game as much help in that respect.
"The minutes don't mean anything. We could play 50-minute games if we had to," James said. "Once you go out and play on the floor it doesn't matter if you're playing 22 minutes or 40 minutes.
"Once you play it takes a toll on your body." With the NBA just inking a $24 billion television contract extension to broadcast more games, any cutback is unlikely in the near future.
"It's something that obviously won't change tomorrow or anytime soon," James said. "But it's something we should definitely talk about."
James suggested 66 games, the number played during a lockout shortened campaign. But James would spread the load over the typical six-month time span to avoid playing such time-crunched schedules as three games in three nights as was done in the shortened season to allow for a full playoff programme.
Dallas big man Nowitzki was a proponent of shortening the number of games in the NBA march to the playoffs as well.
"I think you don't need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference," the German said. "That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it's about money, and every missed game means missed money for both parties, for the league, for the owners, for the players.
"I would say that (a number of games) in the mid-60s would be enough, which is still a lot of games."