We’ve already learned that the next NBA Season (I hesitate to call it the 2020-21 season, seeing as it may not begin until 2021) will not start until AT LEAST Christmas Day, but we’ve just learned a heckuva lot more of what that season might actually look like. And so far, I like it.
The early hope, according to the latest reports, is to avoid another bubble entirely:
The NBA has informed teams that, for the 2020-21 season, it prefer in-market competition with an amount of fans and reduced travel — instead of current bubble structures.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 11, 2020
I’m not particularly surprised to see the NBA *plan* to avoid a bubble next season, despite the success of the current one, given the fact that Major League Baseball has actually hit their stride safely and effectively without a bubble this year (after stumbling out of the gate and dealing with not one, but two relatively massive breakouts, of course). But make no mistake, the league is not simply returning to the status quo.
After a call with the league’s 30 General Managers on Friday, reports have surfaced that the aim is to deliver in-market competition *with* fans in attendance. But like MLB, schedules will likely be adjusted to limit unnecessary travel (in MLB this meant that teams were playing against only their division and the closest teams geographically from the other league). I’m not certain the NBA schedule would be as extreme as MLB, given that they were playing just about a 37% of their typical regular season, while the NBA would ideally play a full year, but we could see something similar at a higher level.
Like everything in 2020, none of this is written in stone just yet, but it seems to be increasingly likely that the next NBA season will 1) begin on Christmas or later, 2) feature in-market competition, and 3) will host some fans in attendance.
It’s possible that all of this planning is rendered moot if a viable, affordable, and widely available vaccine is developed before the new year, but I don’t think anyone is willing to gamble on that. So for now, these optimistic, but still cautious plans for next season are fairly encouraging. Even partial fan attendance could be a huge boon to the teams that benefit from gameday revenue, to say nothing of the thousands of workers across the league who service those games.
I like news like this, especially on a Friday.