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NBA Expected to Begin 2020-21 Season on December 22


  • Players to vote on plan that would begin the new NBA season just before Christmas
  • Teams would play shortened 72-game regular-season schedules
  • Fans are not expected to be allowed to attend games early in the season

For the last several weeks, we have heard that NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been lobbying the NBA Players Association to agree to start the 2020-21 season around Christmas. The season has already been pushed back as a result of the health crisis, which forced the NBA to postpone the end of the 2019-20 campaign for over four months.

While the players have reportedly pushed back on the idea of starting the new season so soon after finishing the previous one, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says the sides are expected to finalize an agreement very soon. Per Wojnarowski, the NBA Board of Governors and the NBPA have scheduled separate meetings for Thursday that will likely end in an agreement for a 2020-21 season timeline.

Agreement Expected Soon

Wojnarowski reports that both sides will likely agree to start the new season on December 22 ahead of a truncated 72-game regular-season schedule.

The NBPA is expected to take a vote of all 30 team player representatives at Thursday’s meeting, and the players are expected to vote in favor of the new plan.

The union is discussing salary escrow options for players of around 18 percent that will be applied to each of the next two seasons as the league continues to navigate complicated financial waters in light of the pandemic.

The NBPA is holding team calls today, sharing with players details of a proposed agreement with NBA that includes a Dec. 1 start to camps, three preseason games and discussions on a salary escrow for players in the range of 18 percent for the next two years, sources tell ESPN.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 4, 2020

Silver and the league will await player approval on the December 22 tipoff date, with both sides expecting the agreement to come at some point before the end of the week.

With the NBA draft scheduled for November 18, teams are working on a very short offseason schedule if the new season will begin just over a month later. The league will likely start free agency on December 1, with training camps set to open the same day. That obviously gives players on new teams very little time to get acclimated to their new surroundings before games begin.

NBA Pushing for Christmas Day

The NBA has been adamant about starting in late December in an attempt to capitalize on potentially large TV ratings that come with games taking place on Christmas Day, which is usually a showcase day for the league. The 72-game schedule would conclude before the beginning of next summer’s Olympics, which are still slated to take place in Tokyo after being postponed earlier this year. That would allow players from around the league to play a full season while still having enough time to participate in the Summer Games.

Starting the season in December would likely generate between $500 million and $1 billion in extra revenue for the NBA and its players.

The league has been discussing escrow withholding on player salaries with the union for quite some time in order to account for financial losses caused by the health crisis. Spreading out the potential losses over the next couple of years would protect players from taking even bigger one-time financial hits.

The deadline for either side to opt-out of the current collective bargaining agreement was pushed back to Friday, November 6. Neither side is expected to take that step, which would essentially blow up the 50/50 basketball-related revenue split.

No Fans Expected Early in Season

The league has said that around 40 percent of the NBA’s basketball-related income could be lost without fans being able to attend games this season. The NBA’s BRI took a hit of just over $1.5 billion last season after the league was forced to finish its season in a fanless bubble in Orlando.

The majority of NBA cities are still not allowing gatherings of over 500 people, which means the league is currently planning to begin its new season in home arenas without fans. The league does not expect fans to be allowed to attend games at any point early in the season due to health concerns.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …

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