The beginning of December, the end of December, mid-January, February, and even March – all possible start times for the 2020-21 NBA season. This is just one of many major decisions the league will have to make over the next few weeks, and according to ESPN, that discussion is in full swing on Friday.
The NBA’s board of governors is meeting Friday and is discussing possible changes to plans for the 2020-21 season, including starting as quickly as possible, playing fewer than 82 games and not waiting for fans to be permitted to all league arenas, sources told ESPN.
As the pandemic continues, the idea of starting the season quickly to stay on a somewhat familiar NBA timeline has gained steam. Fans will likely not be allowed inside arenas at full capacity any time soon, and an early-winter start date would allow the NBA to continue to take advantage of the holiday season – which we all know has been a key timeframe for the league in years past.
In any case, it seems the Board of Governor’s meeting is humming along, because The Athletic’s Shams Charania has already shared the newly targeted start date.
The NBA’s league office informed the Board of Governors on Friday that it is targeting to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas Day, and would like to play a 72-game campaign, sources told The Athletic.
Commissioner Adam Silver has said in the past that the league would prefer a full 82-game season with each team playing in their home market. While the latter will likely be the case (another bubble would be far too expensive for the league and mentally taxing for the players), it appears the league may sacrifice some games to start things up sooner. This would give players a bit more rest time, which feels necessary after such a stressful 2020 campaign, while also allowing them to finish the season before the 2021 Olympics. Not to mention, I suppose this could potentially allow a bit more flexibility if games have to be rescheduled.
Additionally, Charania reports that the league wants to continue the play-in tournament idea for the playoffs, which I wouldn’t mind to see a certain team from Chicago competing in next summer (*wink*).
If the league wants such a fast turnaround, though, they’re going to have to also get the NBPA’s approval quickly. Silver said he would give teams an 8-week notice before the season, which would be right around the corner if a December 22nd start date was agreed upon.
Oct. 30 is setting up to be a key date. The NBA and NBPA agreed that day would be the deadline to complete ongoing discussions on modifications to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 season, a date that requires the league or union to provide 45 days’ notice if either decides to terminate the CBA — a scenario that sources continue to believe is a remote possibility.
It would also mark roughly eight weeks until Christmas. Silver has told the union that there would be at least eight weeks between an agreement and the formal starting of next season (per ESPN).
Considering I started to expect that we wouldn’t see the NBA until at least the end of January, I’m floored. We haven’t had Bulls basketball since March, so the sooner we can get the ball rolling (dribbling?) again, the happier I’ll be!
UPDATE: Just as we mentioned above, it seems that the inability to house a significant number of fans in the near future has motivated teams to move toward a December start date for next season. The idea of having fans in attendance at a reduced level doesn’t appear to be off the table, but it also doesn’t appear to hold as much weight as it once did.
Because approximately two-thirds of the league’s current jurisdictions still aren’t allowing large gatherings of people – as well as the ominous current trajectory of the virus – the NBA has become less apt to delay start of season and wait on return of fans, sources said. https://t.co/owCgERQOEX
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2020