While the NBA may be ready to begin its return-to-play plan with a 22-team format on the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando at the end of July, it had been deemed a foregone conclusion that the league would be forced make some significant changes to its usual offseason schedule.
The NBA has started to shift gears by setting their sights on a new timeline with the latest possible date for a Game 7 of the NBA Finals slated to land on Oct. 12. Reports indicate that the league has set a provisional timeline of kicking off next season on Dec. 1.
Although the 2020-21 NBA season being pushed back was considered inevitable, it appears teams would still like to maintain a sense of normalcy moving forward. As a result, players could be expected to quickly pick up where they left off once this truncated season concludes.
According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk feels the NBA is pushing for a condensed version of the normal offseason:
“Because of this circumstance, I think the league wants to stay as close to its original schedule as possible,” Schlenk said on a conference call with reporters. Atlanta’s season was ended last week when the league approved a plan for 22 of the 30 teams to go to Orlando to resume play next month.
“There’s a lot of different reasons for that — the college season, the draft and how all of that plays out. So that’s why they’ve laid out a timeline where it would be a very quick turnaround from the NBA Finals to the start of the season. “If you’re going from the middle of October to starting the season [on] the 1st of December, if you are one of the teams in the Finals, that’s quick,” Schlenk said.
“But they want to try to stay as close to the historical timing as possible. So I don’t think this is something you’ll see stick. They’ve talked to us on one of our GM calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year. More so than in the past. As you know, there’s been a big drive to avoid back-to-backs and certainly four in five nights, but we might find ourselves in a situation next year where it would be much more condensed.”
The NBA has been forced to take unprecedented action since the hiatus began back in March in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Such a quick turnaround would certainly present its own set of challenges for teams around the league with the draft and free agency, however, it may be necessary if they hope to maintain its current time frame.
The league has no intention of competing with the the postponed 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo for television ratings. Unfortunately, they still have far more pressing concerns to address with the duration of the 2019-20 NBA season in Orlando before officially agreeing to a deal on a new offseason plan.