In recent public comments, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed the desire for the 2020-21 season to include 82 games, played in front of fans in home markets, with a likely start date sometime in January. While that scenario could conceivably come to fruition, reporting from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe, Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst on Friday sheds light on various changes that could be in the offing.
ESPN reports that the league’s Board of Governors is convening on Friday to discuss myriad topics, including “playing fewer than 82 games,” as well as “not waiting for fans to be permitted to all league arenas.” From there, the discussion is also reportedly set to include a timetable that puts Christmas Day on the table and the general goal to start the 2020-21 campaign “as quickly as possible.”
Moments later, Marc Stein of the New York Times echoed the sentiment on a potential Christmas start, reporting that it is “gaining momentum” in some circles.
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
Later in the afternoon, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported a target date before Christmas and the potential for a 72-game season.
The ESPN piece does note that “numerous teams” are not sure a Christmas Day start is “feasible,” with the oft-discussed timeline of a Martin Luther King Day tip-off more reasonable. When examining the league’s current calendar, it does seem that Dec. 25 would be a highly aggressive start date, especially when considering the 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for Nov. 18 and free agency will follow. Given the need for training camp and some sort of ramp-up to the season for teams that made deep playoff runs, a turnaround in less than a month could be too optimistic.
Multiple outlets have reported that the NBA and the NBPA have settled on Oct. 30 as the deadline for CBA modifications, though that date could be pushed back as it has been already. Still, that remains a date to circle on the calendar, as decisions have to be made in the coming days, especially with regard to the salary cap and other considerations necessary to hold the draft in typical fashion.
While this reporting is undeniably interesting, it also underscores the lack of clarity around the league for the 2020-21 season, though most seem to believe that the NBA is angling to establish (relative) normalcy for the calendar by 2021-22. Stay tuned as more information becomes available, but the Atlanta Hawks and the league’s other 29 teams will be keeping a close eye on the next steps.