The 72-game NBA season is officially kicking off on Dec. 22, and there are reportedly more changes in store for the slightly shorter pandemic season.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted a tentative NBA schedule on Sunday that includes an All-Star break with no All-Star Game and playoff dates that bring them perilously close to the start of the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Tentative NBA schedule
The NBA’s late kickoff (two months later than normal) means that everything is happening later than it normally would be, but removing 10 games from the schedule (from 82 to 72) helps make up about a month of time by the end of the season. The 2019 regular season ended in mid-April, and in 2021 it would end in May.
The five-day All-Star break is from March 5-10 (it normally takes place in mid-February), but there would be no All-Star Game played in 2021. That also likely means that other All-Star events like the skills contest, the slam dunk contest, and the rising stars game will also be canceled.
Another significant date is the end of the NBA Finals, which is scheduled for July 22, 2021. That’s one day before the start of the rescheduled Summer Olympics in Tokyo. With playoff dates coming so close to the Olympics, building an Olympic basketball team is likely going to be difficult. Players on teams competing in the Finals might not be able to be on the Olympic team at all.
While the start date of Dec. 22 is official, the NBA has not confirmed any of the other dates Woj tweeted.
Play-in tournament expected to be adopted
After the success of the play-in tournament for the NBA’s bubble playoffs, they’re set to adopt it for the upcoming season. Woj reported that NBA team owners are likely to approve it soon.
From May 17-21, seeds 7-10 would play each other to determine the final playoff field. The two higher seeds will only need one win to make the playoffs, while the two lower seeds will need two wins.
Other significant dates
There’s more news than just the tentative NBA schedule. According to Woj, the NBA’s trade moratorium is set to be lifted on Monday at noon.
How quickly will the Rockets unload the unhappy Russell Westbrook? We won’t have to wait long to find out.
Another important date is also set to happen in the upcoming week, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps: the start of free agency. Free agents can sign starting Friday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.
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