NBA Not Ruling Out Christmas Day Start, If Not Sooner
Oct 23, 2020, 11:48 AM | Updated: 12:50 pm
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The last NBA Finals may have just ended, but the league is already eyeing the beginning of next season. According to ESPN, the 2020-21 season could return before the of the year. Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe reported Friday that some league owners are still pushing for the NBA season to begin on Christmas day, one of the league’s strongest viewership dates throughout the calendar.
“There has been some discussion among owners about starting as soon as Christmas Day to take advantage of that historically prime NBA showcase, sources said,” According to the article. “Numerous teams contacted by ESPN over the past 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, sources said.”
Shams Charania of The Athletic said the start date could come even sooner.
“The NBA is targeting Dec. 22 for the start of the 2020-21 season and a 72-game campaign that finishes before the ‘21 Olympics,” Charania tweeted.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 23, 2020
The NBA has traditionally scheduled four to five games on Christmas Day, and a few select mid-day games to be played on Martin Luther King Day on January 18.
Commissioner Adam Silver had previously expressed his desire to play a full 82-game schedule for the upcoming season and said the league may not be able to plan around the rescheduled 2020 Olympic games, now set for July and August of 2021.
“It’s unclear whether the Olympic Games will go on as scheduled,” Silver told CNN. “And I think it would be tough for us to make a decision on January based on the Olympics happening as scheduled, that’s so unclear.”
When should the NBA begin next season?
Christmas Day and MLK Jr. (Jan 18) are the most popular guesses.
Which would you prefer? pic.twitter.com/oiV93kt9WS
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 23, 2020
Key Date Approaching
If the NBA hopes to begin its season by Christmas day, it will have to come to an agreement on the start date as soon as next week.
“Oct. 30 is setting up to be a key date,” According to ESPN. “The NBA and NBPA agreed that day would be the deadline to complete ongoing discussions on modifications to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 season, a date that requires the league or union to provide 45 days’ notice if either decides to terminate the CBA — a scenario that sources continue to believe is a remote possibility.”
October 30 is exactly nine weeks before Christmas Day when the league could potentially open its season. Silver has previously stated the league would need at least eight weeks between a formal agreement between players and owners to begin the season and the NBA’s opening day.
The push for a Christmas Day start to the 2020-21 NBA season, which would naturally please the league's TV partners, is gaining momentum, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2020
Before the NBA’s restart in Orlando, players were required to return to their home cities in late June to begin individual workouts. An abbreviated training camp began in early July, and games restarted on July 30.
If the league were to follow a similar timeline, players would be asked to begin returning to their home cities by mid-November, with training camp beginning after Thanksgiving Day. However, the NBA draft won’t be conducted until November 18, with free agency opening soon after.
In the meantime, league owners and players must come to a new agreement on how to balance the league’s losses due to the pandemic shortened season.
“The NBA and NBPA are working on resetting of the 2020-21 salary-cap and luxury-tax numbers based upon those audits and financial projections for the next year,” According to ESPN. “This allows for teams, agents and players to have more time to prepare for the financial realities of the pandemic’s impact on the league.”