NBA Targeting December 22 Start, 72-Game Season

After a report surfaced earlier today suggesting the logistics of the NBA’s 2020/21 season would be discussed during a board of governors meeting, more details have emerged, per Brian Windhorst and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As Windhorst and Wojnarowski report, the NBA is aiming to begin the ’20/21 season prior to Christmas Day. Charania indicates that December 22 is the current target date, with both ESPN and The Athletic reporting that the league is proposing a truncated 72-game season instead of the usual 82.

The plan would allow for players to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in July and August and would put the NBA on track to resume its usual October-to-June schedule for the 2021/22 season.

Beginning the ’20/21 season just two months from now would almost certainly eliminate the possibility of fans attending games in-person due to ordinances restricting large indoor gatherings in many teams’ home markets.

However, waiting for fan attendance to become viable in all 30 markets likely would’ve resulted in a significant delay for the start of next season, and the NBA now sees more value in beginning the season sooner rather than later.

Charania reports that the league office projected a $500MM revenue value in NBA resumption transpiring a few days before Christmas instead of a later 2021 date. The 2020 NBA Finals concluded on October 11.

While fans may not be permitted in arenas by December, the NBA “strongly prefers” to avoid another single-site bubble, according to Wojnarowski and Windhorst, who say that the league is discussing travel and game schedules that would keep teams in certain marketplaces for longer than normal — teams may play multiple consecutive games against one another, similar to regular-season series in MLB.

The NBA is also hoping to once again implement a play-in tournament prior to the postseason and may propose eliminating All-Star Weekend in 2021 in favor of a two-week break halfway through the season, per ESPN.

All of these details must be approved by the National Basketball Players Association before they become official. Wojnarowski and Windhorst report that the league intends to “move quickly” to negotiate the details with the NBPA and set the plan in motion.

The league has vowed to give players approximately eight weeks notice before the start of the 2020/21 season, which means that the goal would be to wrap up negotiations between the NBA and NBPA sometime next week.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this story.

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28 thoughts on “NBA Targeting December 22 Start, 72-Game Season

  1. hiflew

    One of the best things about the 2020 pandemic is that nearly every sports fan now knows the meaning of the word truncated. It is has become the most ubiquitous word in almost every sports story this year.

    • Chief Two Hands

      Personally, I think the best things about the pandemic have been that it convinced me to cancel cable and not have to shake hands with anyone. I am not a big fan of physical contact unless it is with a woman to which I am physically attracted.

      • Curtisrowe

        Yeah, and if it’s a woman I am attracted to, I don’t mind a .6 chance of death. Bring it on!

        As far as cable goes, get an adblocker and stream it. I’ve been doing that for years.

        • Chief Two Hands

          Heh my feeling about physical contact goes well beyond the pandemic.

        • Chief Two Hands

          I have been streaming for years as well. Cable is ridiculously overpriced for channels I do not care about. I prefer Netflix, Hulu, etc., anyway.

          • x%sure

            Better hope we don’t have a nuclear holocaust. That could inconvenience streaming by interfering with wifi signals, and make riding the disaster out by watching TV more difficult.
            Okay, /s.

  2. Noel1982

    If they follow the nfl model of business as usual like covid is no big deal they will have at least a few interruptions unlike the nfl that is a weekly Sport , so makes sense to start earlier then thought

  3. It’s a starting point for negotiation with the PA, who will almost certainly want a later date. December 22 means preseason (even if truncated) would have to begin around December 1st. Maybe a 6 week off season to prepare for a 6 month season? Too short. Players need more time to physically recover particularly since their used to 4-5 months.

  4. Thronson5

    Hoping to hear when free agency starts. If the draft is mid November you’d think free agency would start soon

  5. Curtisrowe

    That sounds awesome. College hoops in November, NBA in December? Could be worse.

    • hiflew

      It’s funny how people think guys getting paid millions of dollars to work at most 120-150 days a year don’t get enough rest. Meanwhile, a lot of those same people work much harder 300+ days a year for a lot less money.

      • Reflect

        They work way more than 120 days a year, and you sound bitter. It’s not the NBAs fault your life is miserable. They’re still people even if they have money.

        So how about you go and address your own concerns about your own job with your own boss instead of passive aggressively resenting others on a sports blog?

  6. specialfriedrice

    I like the proposal, back on track for 21/22 season. Can’t be another huge delay if these guys want to get paid…the fans at games will never happen at a full capacity next year…at all…ever…just adjust and amend to get through the season whilst being able to play as many televised games as possible…keep trying to make the season smaller, than that is exactly what will happen to their oversized pay packets.

  7. JamesT

    Bill Simmons openly speculated that this was the most reasonable pathway with MLK weekend being the latest possible time to start the season. His main concern was establishing the 2021-22 season on the right foundation. Many of us dog him when he’s off-base, he deserves credit here. And for the in-season tournament to eliminate tanking.

  8. mike.honcho

    This seems to be way soon ……. it should favor the same old established/playoff teams actually.

    In Silver we trust, but this thing could go south fast.

    I thought that the plan was for multiple bubbles.

    • x%sure


      I accuse NYers & the Knicks of axing a second bubble with cynicism.

      The union will probably push back the start date. I can’t call that cynical though. Players should at least appear motivated & ready.

  9. El Don

    About time!!!
    December 22 is late enough to start!
    Dreadful idea to have only 72 games & add a tourney!
    If they do the normal season it would finish around mid August (skipping the useless olympics) & they would be ready to start by October.
    Can’t stand the idea of cutting down the 82 game RS!
    As I do enjoy much more the RS than the playoffs… I wanna have the longest RS possible!
    Also hate the idea of tourneys… what a silliness!

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