Coming off arguably the most difficult championship run in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers once again find themselves facing uphill battle after a plan to start the 2020-21 season in December was approved.
The plan includes a 72-game schedule that will tipoff on December 22, just in time for Christmas Day. As the defending champions, the Lakers will almost assuredly be playing on Opening Night and Christmas.
Training camp is slated to begin on December 1, meaning Los Angeles will only have had about seven weeks or so of rest. For players like LeBron James, this works against them as they will not be afforded the time off they typically need to properly recover.
Despite the disadvantage, it appears James is actually supportive of the quick start because of financial implications for the league, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“It’s good news and bad news. I guess we should all be celebrating as NBA fans that the players agreed to do it Christmas week. You see a lot of players out there on social media getting excited about it and celebrating it. But they only really half agreed to what the hope was they would agree to [Thursday]. They’re not going to agree to the financial arrangement just yet. That’s maybe not a big deal; maybe they go back into negotiations and finish that. But in talking to some people around the call, they were a little bit surprised.
“There was a group of star players on the call that kind of pushed back on this and didn’t think this was a good enough deal. LeBron James was not one of them. LeBron has moved his position on this, from what I am told. He is going to support the December 22nd start because he knows it’s important for NBA business. But there’s some guys who want to push a little bit more on financials.”
The December start allows the league and its players to recoup some of the basketball-related income (BRI) that was lost due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This means the players should be able to make more money assuming everything goes according to plan.
Having James as a supporter is a boon for the NBA as he is often one of the leading voices on important matters. There are still details to be worked out, but so far it is looking promising.
Benefits of early start for Lakers
While it is easy to point out the negatives of the Dec. 22 start for Los Angeles, there also could be some positives.
The team might not have to work as hard as other teams to find their footing given they will have played just two months prior. Also, there may be more of a willingness to experiment with the lineup and allow younger players like Talen Horton-Tucker and Devontae Cacok more playing time.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!