According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the NBPA is expected to approve a plan to start the 2020-21 season on December 22nd. We learned yesterday that after weeks of negotiations, the league was planning to have a decision on Friday, whether it be a pre-Christmas start or a January 18th start (which the players association has pushed for).
Ultimately, the financial benefits and traditional future calendar that coincide with a December 22nd start appears to have tipped the scale. The league has the potential to make $500 million to $1 billion in revenue if they can play ball over the holidays, and that’s no small chunk of change.
Considering the massive losses the NBA took last season – and will continue to take this season – it’s hard for players and executives alike to pass up that kind of cash. Not to mention, a January 18th start would have pushed the league deep into the summer, further disrupting a calendar the NBA has grown used to as well as the opportunity for players/coaches to participate in the 2021 Olympics.
While an earlier start will prove to be especially straining for the teams who went deep into the playoffs just a month ago, everyone seems more willing to accept a short-term burden as opposed to a long-term burden. To be clear, though, a decision is not finalized. The vote has yet to commence, and there are still negotiations going on behind the scenes.
For example, Woj and Lowe report that a discussion surrounding the escrow figure (which the NBA reportedly wants at 18 percent) is still in play.
Here is what an 18% escrow would look like for some of the top earners:
Steph Curry ➡️$43M to $35.3M 🔽$7.4M
LeBron James ➡️$39.2M to $32.2M 🔽$7.0M
Kawhi Leonard ➡️$34.4M to $28.2M 🔽$6.2M
Total player escrow projects from $720M to $800M
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) November 4, 2020
At the end of the days, the league is finally on the brink of learning what the future holds. Many things will remain fluid, but a decision on next season’s start date will also include important details about free agency and training camp.
Marc Stein of the New York Times and ESPN are both reporting that training camp will begin on December 1st, while free agency will commence a couple of days after the NBA Draft on November 18th.
Nov. 18: Draft
Free agency 48 to 72 hours after that
Dec. 1: Training camps open
Followill and Stein offseason food tours: Canceled https://t.co/AzFAo2XFJZ
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 4, 2020
In other words, the moment the vote goes through, it will feel like a sprint to the start of the 2020-21 season. I’m sure that will ruffle some feathers around the league, but as a basketball fan … I’m excited to get the Bulls back in my life.