NBPA Approves December 22 Start For 2020/21 Season

The National Basketball Players Association board of representatives voted on Thursday night in a favor of an NBA proposal to start the 2020/21 regular season on December 22 and play a 72-game schedule, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

A number of players had been advocating for a later opening night, given how long the 2019/20 season ran, and January 18 was the other start date being considered. However, the NBA estimated that a pre-Christmas start would save up to $500MM and $1 billion in revenue, and a mid-January start would have resulted in a shorter season (around 60 games). As a result, the players ultimately came around on the league’s plan.

The result of the NBPA’s vote doesn’t make the December 22 start date official. As the union indicated in a statement confirming the news, there are still additional financial and logistical details to be negotiated. However, both sides are confident that agreements can be reached on those issues.

As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, determining what portion of player salaries will be placed into escrow is one important issue the NBA and NBPA need to resolve. According to Charania, the two sides are discussing an escrow in the 17-18% range for player salaries over the next two years, in the hopes that that amount can be reduced to the usual 10% by 2022/23. That would help cushion the blow of the lost revenues for players, spreading the hit over multiple seasons rather than having them bear the brunt of it in ’20/21.

Negotiations between the NBA and NBPA on that subject and other financial issues are expected to extend into next week, sources tell Wojnarowski. Once the two sides reach a formal agreement, the league can lift its moratorium on transactions, allowing teams to conduct trades and other roster moves before the November 18 draft. The transaction freeze is expected to end by November 16, per Charania.

The league and the union hope to open free agency as quickly as possible after the draft, since there will be a very short window before teams have to open training camps on December 1, says Wojnarowski. The start date for free agency still isn’t official, but seems likely to fall within two or three days of the draft.

The salary cap for the 2020/21 season is expected to remain unchanged, with the NBA and NBPA artificially setting at $109.141MM despite projected revenue losses. The league and the union are discussing the possibility of agreeing to have the cap increase by 2% annually for the remainder of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, per Charania (Twitter link). That would mean a cap of $111.324MM for the ’21/22 campaign.

Meanwhile, the league and the union will also have to agree to a set of safety and health protocols as they look to play the 2020/21 season in teams’ respective home arenas rather than in a single-site bubble, even as the number of coronavirus cases around the U.S. continues to rise. Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were among the players who said on Thursday’s call that they want to view the official health and safety measures before fully committing to the season, sources tell Charania.

According to a Thursday report, there’s hope that – at least in some markets – fans will be able to attend games in person with limited capacities and strict safety regulations in place. If that’s possible, it would help offset some of the league’s projected revenue losses.

The NBA will have to decide soon where the Raptors will be playing in ’20/21, since there are still significant restrictions in place on cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada. Newark has been one of several cities discussed as a possibility.

While the league hasn’t yet finalized a schedule for 2020/21, Charania previously reported that the expectation is the season will run from December 22 through mid-May, with the NBA Finals finishing around July 22, just in time for the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

The league is expected to reduce teams’ travel by 25% and there will likely be a six-day All-Star break in early March, though it’s not clear if an All-Star Game will actually be played. The NBA is also hoping to conduct a play-in tournament for the final two seeds in each conference.

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25 thoughts on “NBPA Approves December 22 Start For 2020/21 Season

  1. Little_Dunker_45

    Little D predicts Raptors will have a new home for the season…nature finds a way

    • x%sure

      That “predicts” is quite a safe risk at the moment, given that Canada has health laws against Americans massing at the border and charging in.
      Little D should predict what that home is!

      • Little_Dunker_45

        You didn’t say the magic word…but you want the truth? Buffalo is Buffa-no. You have to be drunk to think Louisville is a real option. Therefore Little D knows Sunny Los Angeles is the real destination. Siakam will get hurt early in the season and be a non factor. Lowry will perform well early then come to earth. Desperate move at trade deadline. Raptors finish bottom 8 but make the playoffs…if you ask me

        • Chief Two Hands

          One of the goals is to reduce travel, so there is obviously now way an Eastern Conference team will be based anywhere near the West Coast.

        • x%sure

          Little D got some bonus points there! Gotta say it was popular last year to say Toronto will fall apart. (Maybe they’re due)

    • Chief Two Hands

      That’s more of a given than a prediction. Hey, I predict the NBA season will begin before 2021!

      • Little_Dunker_45

        You’re right. They just announced the schedule last night. Buy a lotto ticket if you ask me

    • 4Quarters

      Always has. Always will.

      People believing anything else are either raging against a machine that is unconcerned, or are straight delusional.

  2. HubcapDiamondStarHalo

    “We don’t want to start til later.” – Players

    “You won’t get paid as much.” – NBA

    “Never mind.” – Players

  3. Luckylefty2

    So is kyrie going to opt out this season aswell ?? Because nothing has changed.

    • 4Quarters

      I need to hear George Hill & Jeylen Brown’s thoughts too.

      It’s real easy for everyone to get swept up in a “movement” fueled by the media cycle…but what about when another story dominates that cycle..?

      Do they still stand on the same principle$, or was it all for $how?

      • x%sure

        I wouldn’t say one news cycle dominates another; they just individually fade in time unless one can get a new title like covid did. Silver scheduled the playoffs for when the killer virus news cycle turned into a policemen are out to kill blacks news cycle.

        Credit though to people who typically stay working and have to give up the energy of greetings with physical touching.

      • Luckylefty2

        I can tell u 99% do it for the show. These guys aren’t like their peers. It is alot of peer pressure and being called a “sellout”

    • Chief Two Hands

      Durant’s health may be a huge difference. Irving is pretty flaky, though, so who knows what he will do. I hope both Durant and Irving play, however, because I am eager to see that duo implode.

  4. bumpy93

    I’m actually happy for this you know as a 76er fan they are actually making some decent front office moves or whatnot and I’m head coach move with doc Rivers I’m actually kind of getting excited for the season glad it’s going to start in a little over a month

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