NBA discussing a Christmas start for 2020-21 season, scheduling less than 82 games
Updated: Nov 15
Pranith J Rao
October 23, 2020
The 2020-21 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is highly impacted by the coronavirus due to which the league is lagging behind. It is already late-October and the regular season hasn’t commenced yet. It won’t start until Christmas at least.
A photo of Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, on October 23, 2020 the NBA’s league office told the Board of Governors that they are aiming Dec. 22 as the start date for the 2020-21 season. The league is contemplating a 72-game schedule so that the players can participate in the 2021 Olympics, held at Tokyo.
As reported by ESPN, “The NBA’s Board of Governors is meeting Friday and are discussing possible changes to plans for the 2020-21 season, including starting as quickly as possible—playing fewer than 82 games and not waiting for fans to be permitted to all league arenas” and added that, “There has been some discussion among owners about starting as soon as Christmas Day to take advantage of that historically prime NBA showcase. Though numerous teams contacted by ESPN over the last several days weren’t sure such a timeline was feasible. Others have been pushing for a start around Martin Luther King Day weekend in mid-January,” according to Lakers Nation.
“The NBA wants to engulf the play-in tournament that was exploited in the Orlando restart to incite the eighth seed in the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs”, Charania said. As claimed by ESPN, some teams have doubted the starting of the 2020-21 season around Christmas Day since the previous season had just ended on October 11, while other teams have suggested, starting-off the season around Martin Luther King Day in mid-January. The most significant aspect of this dormant plan is playing less than 82 games since a full 82-game season has always been a primary concern. The Covid-19 affects the revenue and makes difficult tradeoffs.
The upcoming season could be similar as the 2011-12, which had begun on Christmas, and with a total of 66 regular-season games. This results in an opportunity for experimentation and provides more rest to players. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, stated that the league desired to play a full 82-game season—with fans around them.
The advancing Covid-19 pandemic could make it difficult to follow these plans. According to the NBA, the new revenue-generating formats will be carried out in the upcoming 75th anniversary season in 2021-22. The NBA and NBPA decided October 30, to be the deadline to complete the negotiations and mitigations for the 2020-21 season. “Talks between the NBA and union have been productive on making the necessary financial allowances on the 2020-21 salary cap and luxury-tax thresholds to account for the massive losses in revenues from the pandemic” as reported by ESPN.
The salary conceal is roughly ₹160 crore based on a projected salary of ₹400 crore for the upcoming season. The NBA and NBPA are working on re-establishing the 2020-21 pay-roll and luxury-tax numbers inspection and financial projections for the next year which allows the teams, agents and players to have an increased time to formulate financial realities of the pandemic’s impact on the league. The NBA draft is likely to happen on November 18 and the teams are hoping for the league to reach a settlement with the union and deliver more clearly on the cap and tax bills.
Sources: (ESPN, Sports Illustrated)
Edited by Shreya Gupta and Aditya Das