The NBA is targeting a 2020-21 season start date of Dec. 22, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The league office reportedly informed its Board of Governors on Friday that it intends to schedule a 72-game season, beginning three days before Christmas and ending prior to the 2021 Olympics in late July.
The NBA is in favor of a play-in tournament for the final playoff seeds, per Charania. The league tested a play-in series during the 2019-20 season restart, and the eighth-place Portland Trail Blazers defeated the ninth-place Memphis Grizzlies for the right to face the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
The start date would need to be confirmed by the National Basketball Players Association. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, discussions between the owners and players’ union are ongoing. The Lakers eliminated the Miami Heat on Oct. 11, leaving just 72 days between seasons if Dec. 22 is confirmed.
The NBA prefers in-market games, and there was some belief that a later start date in 2021 might allow for more cities capable of putting fans in the stands and maximizing revenue. The reality that the coronavirus pandemic will impact the 2020-21 season appears to have shifted the focus to returning to a normal schedule in 2021-22. A Dec. 22 start would allow for the customary October start to the following season.
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