The NBA is looking to inject some basketball back into our lives as soon as possible, with sources telling ESPN on Friday that the association is putting plans in place to get a new 72-game season started before Christmas, just 10 weeks after the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season.
The association had originally been planning to push the start of the 2020-2021 season—which the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers are favored to win with 4.50 odds on 888sports—into January or later in the hopes of putting on a full 82-game season with arenas full of cheering fans. However, due to recent developments around the country, hopes for fans to be in the seats this upcoming season have waned considerably, which is a big reason why the NBA is now moving to get the season started as soon as possible.
Apart from the season being shortened from 82 to 72 games, there should be a few other changes to the format for this upcoming campaign. These may include a play-in tournament similar to the seeding games we saw in the bubble in August, the elimination of the All-Star Weekend festivities, and a two-week break midway through the season.
The shortened season would allow time for play-in tournaments for both conferences while still getting the season wrapped up before the Summer Olympics get underway in Japan in the summer of 2021. The early start prior to Christmas would also allow for the NBA’s TV partners, ESPN and Turner, to get closer to full value on their partnerships.
The NBA shared these new plans for the upcoming season with the league’s Board of Governors on Friday, and they’ll be trying to finish up negotiations with the NBA Player’s Association quickly so that they can begin to implement their plan as soon as possible, sources said.
There is still a lot that needs to happen before the NBA season can start including the NBA Draft, which is scheduled for November 18th, followed by a period for free agency, and finally enough time for a training camp that will allow players to get into proper game shape before they hit the court for competitive play.
The NBA has also indicated that they would prefer to avoid another bubble situation and will be attempting to somewhat emulate the MLB’s strategy, which had teams staying in one marketplace to play several games before moving again, which would limit the travelling and testing that teams would need to do.
Barring any further setbacks, it seems like we’ll be getting NBA basketball back a lot sooner than we thought, and who’s going to complain about that?