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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