While NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been receiving constant praise due to his handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — namely the Walt Disney World bubble — he now has to deal with an equally challenging issue: the 2020-21 season.
The league and Players Association remain at an impasse over the start date as the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency are rapidly approaching.
The league initially proposed a 72-game season beginning on Dec. 22 and ending some time in July. Although fans likely wouldn’t be allowed to begin the season, starting at that time would permit close to a full 82-game schedule, and would give the NBA a chance to get back on track for the 2021-22 season.
However, that date was met with harsh reviews from players, who preferred a Martin Luther King Jr. start date in January. Now, with just about seven weeks until Dec. 22, Silver has informed teams they are hard-pressed to carry out with that plan, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN:
On a conference call with the league’s general managers on Monday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the top team basketball executives that “time is running out” on the possibility of starting the 2020-21 season prior to Christmas Day and potentially salvaging hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, sources told ESPN.
Discussions with the National Basketball Players Association continued over the weekend and into Monday, but the union’s reluctance to agree to a Dec. 22 start and a reduced 72-game regular season has left the league fearful it has only several days left before opening training camps around Dec. 1 for a pre-Christmas tip is no longer a realistic possibility, sources said.
Upon completion of the Finals, the NBA and NBPA agreed that there would be at least eight weeks between an agreement and the season start date. It would now be impossible to achieve this and still begin on Dec. 22.
The current deadline for negotiations in Nov. 6, although that date has already been postponed multiple times to get it to that point. If the two sides cannot come to an agreement or extend the deadline yet again, we may be looking at a lockout.
January start date may lead to 50-game season
If the players get their way with regard to a Martin Luther King Jr. Day start date for next season, it may come at the expense of many regular season games. Due to the need to finish the season by July, completing 72 games and a full playoff slate in six months would be nearly impossible.
Pressure from networks to finish the season prior to the Summer Olympics may force the NBA to propose a 50-game season, significantly reducing revenue for the entire league.
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