Everything has seemed to happen very quickly over the past few days in the NBA, and that’s not just the case for the Sixers.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Friday that all NBA teams are now allowed to open practice facilities for group practices, workout and scrimmages with up to 10 players. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, players will need to be tested for COVID-19 each day and return negative results to participate.
With the NBA reportedly aiming to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, it makes sense that players would be permitted to return to facilities. However, that Dec. 22 target date is certainly not set in stone.
“Given all that has to be resolved between now and a Dec. 22 date, factoring that there will be financial risks by a later start date, it defies common sense that it can all be done in time,” NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Athletic. “Our players deserve the right to have some runway so that they can plan for a start that soon. The overwhelming response from the players that I have received to this proposal has been negative.”
If the NBPA stands firmly against a Dec. 22 start and in favor of a mid-January start, The New York Times’ Marc Stein reports that players may only be offered a 50-game season. The December plan would reportedly be a 72-game season.
A 50-game schedule wouldn’t give Sixers head coach Doc Rivers much time to acclimate to his new team, one that may look very different than it did last year if Daryl Morey lives up to his deal-making reputation. (Morey, in case you missed it, is in advanced talks to become the Sixers’ president of basketball operations.)
That said, beginning the season in mid-January and only playing 50 games would mean more time since Ben Simmons’ season-ending surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee, as well as less toll overall on the Sixers’ oft-injured All-Star big man, Joel Embiid.
The NBA draft is set for Nov. 18, but there’s still much to be officially determined before the 2020-21 season begins, including the salary cap and luxury tax threshold, the opening of free agency and the start of training camps.
The cap and tax figures are set to be $109 million and $132 million, respectively, according to The Athletic. The Sixers, with their large financial commitments to Simmons, Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford, look set to pay a steep luxury tax penalty.