The National Basketball Players Association is planning to hold a vote on Thursday night or Friday morning on the league’s proposal to start next season on December 22, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
The NBPA, led by executive director Michele Roberts, started holding conference calls with players from each team on Monday and that process will go through Thursday morning. The tone of those calls gave the impression the season is likely to start before Christmas, Charania adds. In that instance, a 72-game season would be held.
The alternative start date is Martin Luther King Day on January 18 with a 60-game regular season. Previous reports suggested the league might limit the season to 50 games if it started in mid-January.
Sources communicated to Charania that NBA players feel the December 22 league start will happen. The NBA has projected that teams and players could suffer significant financial losses with a January start. The week of Christmas traditionally produces ample revenue, numbering in the hundreds of millions of dollars, for the league.
The league predicted that its television network partners may want to renegotiate their lucrative NBA contracts should Christmas games be skipped this season. Under either restart date, the NBA would reduce travel between arenas by 25% to minimize COVID-19 risk, and there would be a six-day All-Star Break. Also, a play-in tournament for the seventh through tenth seeds in both conferences would transpire.
Both the league and the NBPA are targeting a $109MM salary cap and a $132MM luxury tax. The two sides differ when it comes to how they feel the cap and tax should evolve beyond the 2020/21 season, however. The NBA would like to keep a flat tax and cap over the next few years, while the NBPA would prefer an annual increase, sources tell Charania.
If the two sides agree to a 72-game season tipping off on December 22, there would be 14 back-to-back games per team. The regular season would conclude around May 16, and the NBA Finals would finish at the end of July.
Were the NBA to embark upon a 60-game regular season on January 18, each team would have to deal with 12 back-to-back games. The regular season would resolve in June, and the NBA Finals would wrap up around the end of August.
Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this report.