Let the countdown begin – the NBA is set to start on December 22. On Thursday, the NBPA confirmed its representatives tentatively approved a 72-game season schedule that will begin three days before Christmas, with an end date mid-July prior to the Summer Olympics.
The NBA and NBPA are planning to discuss the opening of free agency as quickly as possible after the NBA draft on November 18, to accommodate player movement with such a short window to the opening of training camps on December 1. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, next up are the financial terms on amended CBA, which will take into next week. Thus trade moratorium is expected to be lifted shortly before Nov. 18 Draft.
Per ESPN, a Dec. 22 start that includes televised Christmas Day games on and allows for a shortened 72-game schedule is reported to be worth between $500 million and $1 billion in short- and long-term revenues to the league and the players. That’s the loss the league projected if the season started on MLK day and was around 55 regular-season games.
With the pandemic causing severe losses in the NBA’s revenues, both parties have discussed significant rises in the escrow withholding on players’ salaries. The end goal is to spread out players’ losses over multiple seasons and alleviate the substantial financial hit they’ve taken this year due to the pandemic.
Shams Charania of The Athletic provided more details on the salary cap and luxury tax for the upcoming 20/21 NBA season.
Shams also reported about the NBA aiming to have arenas open to fans at 25-to-50 percent capacity for the regular season tipoff, based on local regulations. Fans will have to undergo protocols such as wearing masks, social distancing, and coronavirus testing, but it’s obvious the league is trying to step away from the bubble-like experience. A vaccine will play a role in to which extent the arenas will be open for fans, but the initial plan is to bring some of them back and try to get back to some sort of a normal NBA game experience.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction that increases the likelihood that the league can get back to its normal 82-game schedule for the following season, assuming that circumstances won’t dictate otherwise. But the important thing is that, after less than half of the traditional offseason, NBA basketball will be back.