The NBPA has asked for an eight-week notice before the start of next season, so the NBA has approximately 48 hours to decide if the season will start in time for the holidays. What if they don’t? Oh, nothing … they might just lose a quick $500 million. No biggie.
Over the past couple of days, the idea of a December 22nd start to the 2020-21 season has gained quite a bit of traction. The holiday season is known to be a cash cow for the league, and after a year full of losses in 2019-20, the NBA Board of Governors sounds eager to play late-December basketball. The only problem is … these owners aren’t the ones suiting up.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, there is a “substantial faction” of players that have yet to be convinced of the quick turnaround.
Yahoo Sources: Substantial faction of players and star players pushing for NBA season to start Jan. 18 — MLK Day — with a free-agency commencement of Dec. 1.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 28, 2020
We can’t look past the fact that this “faction” reportedly includes star players – also known as the guys who have the loudest voice behind the scenes. While we don’t know who is against a holiday start, and whether or not they can be convinced, I think we can assume several of these “stars” played somewhat deep into the playoffs. Over the last two rounds of the season, big-name players like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jokic, and Jayson Tatum all took the floor. Guys like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Gianni Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook also played only one round earlier.
So, how much time is enough time before playing again?
Well, Hayes writes that the players are pushing for MLK Day (January 18th) to be the official start of next season. Free agency could then begin on December 1st. Of course, that differs quite a bit from what the NBA is asking for, which is a Dec. 22nd start with free agency potentially on Nov. 21st (per Marc Stein) and training camp, assumingly, around Dec. 1st. Considering money is contingent on playing over the holidays, it’s hard to find any kind of middle ground here between the two sides, which means someone is going to have to cave.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the league is “likely” to release next season’s schedule in halves. What this does is allow for more flexibility, something they probably hope appeals to players.
NBA is likely to release its 2020-2021 schedule in halves to allow for flexibility and the play-in tournament remains a significant part of the league's plans for next season, sources said. https://t.co/LxEDLoprot
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 28, 2020
Woj also reported that the league lost 10 percent of revenue over this past season. I know that doesn’t necessarily sound that bad, but if we look a bit further into the league’s financial future, it gets much worse.
Here’s a nugget from ESPN’s latest report:
The 2019-20 season losses are slight in comparison to what awaits the NBA in 2020-21 if the season advances without fans and accompanying gate-night receipts, the league told teams — a projected 40% loss in overall revenue, or approximately $4 billion.
Talks about the salary cap and luxury tax levels for next season remain at the core of talks between the NBA and the NBPA. Had the league and players’ union followed the normal formula to determine this season’s salary cap — linking it to overall league revenue — sources told ESPN that it would have fallen to around $90 million — down from about $109 million in 2019-20.
The grim finances above are the reasons why we could eventually see the players hop on board for a December start. Not to mention, this would just put the league back on a more familiar calendar, giving player’s their summers back and also allowing them a chance to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to say what will happen, but at least we’ll get some kind of answer over the next couple of days.