Reports: NBPA approves Dec. 22 for start of 2020-21 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The NBA will be back before Christmas, as the players association voted to approve the league's proposal for a 72-game season that will begin on Dec. 22, according to multiple reports and first reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Now, the league and NBPA have to iron out financial terms for an amended collective bargaining agreement, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. That will take into next week. Wojnarowski also reports that the trade moratorium is expected to be lifted shortly before the Nov. 18 NBA draft.
Starting the season on Dec. 22 and taking 10 games off the usual regular season length will line the calendar up to finish the playoffs before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which are set for July. And by starting the season in late December, and not in early 2021, the league can reportedly preserve hundreds of millions in revenue.
Tipping off in December, however, leaves a strong likelihood fans will not be allowed in arenas. Before coming up with this plan, the league examined ways to potentially have fans attend games, but they were subject to laws and regulations in separate jurisdictions across the country.
By starting in December, the league can go without fans for now with the potential to open the gates later on if states around the country can get a better handle on the coronavirus. Cases are up and setting records around the United States right as the league is formalizing these future plans.
There will be no fans, but also no need for a centralized bubble. In order to limit travel, teams may play a series of games at each location, similar to what is seen in Major League Baseball.
One of the factors at play for the NBA as they came to these decisions was the varying lengths of time different teams have had to wait in between games. The eight teams that were not invited to the Orlando bubble, like the Warriors and Knicks, haven't played a game since March.
Of the 22 teams that made the cut for the restart, those who didn't make the playoffs haven't played since August. The Wizards are among them.
But the select few teams that made deep playoff runs just got done playing less than a month ago. That could create a dynamic where some teams operate very differently than others early in the season to give their players the rest they would otherwise receive in a normal offseason. We may start seeing those differences soon, as training camps are set to open on Dec. 1 and there are plans for preseason games.
Due to many factors, this was always going to be a challenging task for NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league to put together a plan for the 2020-21 season. It took a while, but they got it done and basketball is once again on its way back.