The NBA has quite a tall task in front of them in terms of trying to figure out how to move forward with the 2020-21 season. There are still several key questions regarding what next season will look like, and it appears everything is still very fluid at this point. In regards to when next season will start, there have been several reports circulating, with Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr., Day as possibilities. But a new date has materialized.
After the board of governors met Friday afternoon, league officials told owners that Dec. 22 is the target date for the start of the 2020-21 season, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Additionally, a 72-game schedule seems to be on the table in order to return to the typical October-June schedule for the 2021-22 season. Deciding to start in December also opens up the possibility of the NBA finishing before the 2021 Olympics are slated to start in Tokyo, giving players in the league the opportunity to play in the summer games if they are held.
While no final decision has been made at this time, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com is reporting that the 2021 All-Star Game, scheduled to be held in Indianapolis in February, may not be held as a result of the condensed schedule.
This is a change in direction after commissioner Adam Silver said last month that the upcoming season would most likely start mid-January, with Martin Luther King Jr., Day as a possibility. But starting the season sooner — specifically around Christmas — began gaining momentum going into today’s meeting, per the New York Times‘ Marc Stein.
The league is also in favor of keeping the play-in tournament that was used to determine the No. 8 playoff seeds in both conferences inside the NBA bubble, per Charania.
Anything decided upon must be approved by the National Basketball Players Association. As the idea of starting in December became more popular, several league owners, executives, and star players reportedly began warming up to the idea.
The league still wants to hold games in each team’s home market and figure out a way to reduce travel in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. One idea that’s been mentioned is having multi-game series between two teams in order to limit the number of times each team needs to travel to a different city.
Whatever is decided upon, though, the league is required to give the players union an eight-week notice ahead of when the next season will start. So if the start date does ultimately fall on Dec. 22, that means that the league would have to make that decision by Oct. 27. Similarly, if Martin Luther King Jr., Day becomes the opening day for the 2020-21 season, then players would need to be informed by Nov. 23.