With the 2020 NBA season ending much later than normal and in a bubble due the ongoing pandemic, how the 202-21 campaign will operate is mired in plenty of uncertainty moving forward.
The biggest question that must be figured out is when the season will start as obviously the normal time frame has been completely thrown off. There have been multiple dates rumored as possibilities with most seeming to lean towards the beginning of 2021.
The league needs time to complete the NBA Draft and free agency as well as giving the players some time off. Not to mention the proper time for training camp and preseason so early 2021 would make a lot of sense and Martin Luther King Jr. Day seemed to be the most popular choice.
However, things could be getting started earlier than that as Marc Stein of the New York Times reported a push to start the season on Christmas Day is picking up steam:
The push for a Christmas Day start to the 2020-21 NBA season, which would naturally please the league's TV partners, is gaining momentum, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2020
That was then followed by indications the NBA is targeting a season tipoff before Christmas, per Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The NBA’s league office informed the Board of Governors on Friday that it is targeting to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, three days before Christmas Day, and would like to play a 72-game campaign, sources told The Athletic.
Money will always be a huge factor in any decisions made and the NBA pleasing its television partners is always something that will be considered. The NBA owns Christmas Day and it is one of the biggest days of the season every year so to not have that would be a tough loss for a league and its TV partners which have already taken many losses in 2020.
Another big question is exactly how the league would be able to start by Christmas considering the offseason work that still needs to be done. The NBA Draft is scheduled to take place on Nov. 18, just five weeks before Christmas.
The league would then still need time for free agency, training camp, and preseason. Doing so in that short amount of time would be a difficult task to complete.
Obviously nothing is set in stone, but with each day that passes, the likelihood of a Christmas Day start to the 2021 season would seem to lessen.
Lakers’ LeBron James credits NBA for ‘great’ response
This year has been one that has brought a lot to the table of the NBA and one thing that no one foresaw coming, was the players themselves protesting playoff games in response to a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The league and players had worked closely just to finish out the 2020 season and they had to do so again in order to navigate this as well.
LeBron James praised the NBA for how they responded to the protest, saying they did a great job in listening to the players’ wants and helping them enact the change they desired following that unfortunate incident.
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