NBA Considering Condensed 2020-21 82 Game Schedule

Jun 9, 2020, 12:47 PM | Updated: 1:48 pm
Anthony Davis and LeBron James (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)...
Anthony Davis and LeBron James (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA is considering a condensed schedule for the 2020-21 season. In a conference call Tuesday, Atlanta Hawks owner Travis Schlenk said the league is aiming to keep next season’s timeline as close to normal as possible.

According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, that could imply the league is willing to schedule more back to back games, and four-game in fight night sets. Over the past several seasons, the NBA has looked to limit those scheduling quicks to reduce load management for star players.

The NBA will resume its season on July 31 in Orlando, with a finish date of October 12. In the league’s first proposal to players, the 2020-21 season would resume with opening day on December 1.

Scheduling Implications

There is a strong push in many NBA circles to shift the NBA’s season forward several months. Instead of competing with the NFL juggernaut for TV ratings, moving the NBA’s start date to December and finishing the season in early August would mean less competition for viewers.

With the league being forced to start next season in December, moving opening day permanently was a logical progression.

However, if the NBA is proposing a condensed schedule, those in favor of the move may be out of luck. Though moving the league’s start date has merit, the NBA doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

Coinciding with the league’s suspension, the 2020 Olympic Games have been rescheduled for 2021. With the games set for late July, the NBA will have to have its season finished by mid-July to allow its players to compete. Furthermore, prequalifying international tournaments are scheduled in June of 2021. If players like the Utah Jazz Bojan Bogdanovic wants to compete for his national team, his season would have to be finished by mid-June.

82 Game Schedule

Despite having a smaller window to complete next season, the NBA still hopes to play a full 82 game schedule. According to USA Today’s Mark Medina, the NBA would like to avoid consecutive shortened seasons.

Before the COVID-19 hiatus, the NBA last had a shorter season in 2011-12. Only 66 games were played that season due to a lockout between the players and coaches. The season began on Christmas Day, two months after the proposed start date. The season finished on June 21, about a week later than most NBA seasons.

During the lockout-shortened seasons, 29 of the league’s 30 teams played back-to-back-to-back games. Though next season’s schedule has yet to be made, those scheduling quirks could be part of the solution.

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