Condensed Schedule Possible For 2020/21 Season

Speaking today to reporters on a conference call, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said the NBA has indicated to GMs that the schedule for the 2020/21 season may be somewhat compressed in order to avoid straying too far from the league’s usual calendar, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN (via Twitter).

As Schlenk explains, that could mean more back-to-back sets or even instances of four games in five nights for teams (Twitter link via Bontemps). The NBA has tried to reduce – or eliminate – those stretches as much as possible in recent years, including increasing the number of days in the regular season from 170 to 177 as part of the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

With the NBA aiming to start the 2020/21 season on December 1, a 177-day regular season would run through May 26, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Typically, the league pencils in a little over two months for the postseason — in 2019, for instance, the playoffs started on April 13, with a Game 7 Finals date of June 16. A similar timeline in 2021 would result in the Finals potentially ending around August 1.

That schedule would be somewhat problematic for the NBA, which would prefer not to have its Finals overlapping with the start of the Tokyo Olympics. The Tokyo games have been postponed to next summer and are scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021.

On top of that, the National Basketball Players Association reportedly considers it unlikely that next season will start as early as December 1, since that timeline would create a tiny gap between the 2020 Finals and ’20/21 training camps for certain teams. The NBPA has to sign off on changes to the NBA’s annual calendar, so that start date may require some negotiation.

Reducing the number of games in the 2020/21 regular season would help condense the league year, but Schlenk told Bontemps today that the NBA hasn’t given any indication there will be fewer than 82 games on next season’s schedule (Twitter link via Malika Andrews of ESPN).

For now, the league and the players’ union are rightly focusing most of their attention on how the resumption of the 2019/20 season will work. However, figuring out how to fit in 82 games next season without playing too deep into the summer will be another issue the two sides have to address at some point, with compromises potentially required on both sides.

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10 thoughts on “Condensed Schedule Possible For 2020/21 Season

  1. brewcrew08

    If you start December 1 that gives you 5 full months (150 days) to get in 82 games and have the season end by 5/1. The playoffs didn’t start until 4/13 in 2019 so you are only 2 weeks off schedule. You can easily make that up in the playoffs by not having as many days off.

    • Luke Adams

      I doubt they’ll be quite that aggressive. Finishing the Finals in mid-July (about a month later than usual) is realistic with a December 1 start and a slightly condensed schedule, and would still result in a multi-month offseason for every team in 2021 (if we assume a typical late-September start for training camps).

      • Luke Adams

        Having said that, establishing a realistic 82-game schedule and finishing the Finals by mid-July would be a whole lot more challenging if next season doesn’t start until, say, December 25.

  2. wagner13

    They should permanently reduce the number of games to 58. Just have each team play each other twice: once at home and once on the road. That way the season wouldn’t be so painstakingly long, players can’t complain about back to backs, and the schedules will be about as even as humanly possible

    • HubcapDiamondStarHalo

      And revenue goes WAY down (you’re cutting almost a third of the schedule out), so owner profits go down, so the salary cap goes down…

      Not sure where in the NBA you will find support for this.

        • El Don

          As a fan I would rather they add games that take them away, I just love watching hoops & I would hate to see even less games than now, so I rather they add to the 82 than take away!

        • x%sure

          Shortening games would also reduce workload while still selling tickets.
          If teams played a reserve game first instead of sending prospects to some remote nearly-empty GL gym, ticketbuyers would be just as satisfied, and lesser players would get a crowd.

          RS games that do not mean much is a problem. Silver getting the playoffs expanded does not help since it reduces the RS value.

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