The NBA and its players union are continuing negotiations on when to start the 2020-21 season, with one scenario focusing on a start date in late December that includes Christmas games and an abbreviated schedule that would allow players to compete in the delayed Tokyo Olympics.
People with knowledge of the negotiations who requested anonymity said Friday that one scenario popular with owners would be to start the season on or before Christmas Day with a 72-game season that would conclude in time for players to travel to Tokyo for the Summer Games.
The National Basketball Players Assn., the union that represents players, has not agreed to any proposals from the league’s Board of Governors, said one person familiar with the talks.
Several people not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said the season starting on or near Christmas seems to be a stretch, but that it is an ideal time if it’s possible.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in late September, as the 2020 NBA Finals were to begin, that a likely start to the season would push into the next calendar year but did not rule out Christmas as a target date.
“My best guess is that … that season won’t start until ’21,” Silver said of next season on Sept. 23. “We said a week ago or so that the earliest we would start is Christmas of this year.”
The date most often mentioned for the start of the new season is around the Martin Luther King Day weekend in January, according to multiple people.
One scenario being discussed, one person related, was another bubble situation, but much different from the one just completed in Orlando, Fla., where the Lakers won the franchise’s 17th championship.
That proposal would set up five bubbles around the country with six teams in each bubble. There hasn’t been any discussion about specific locations.
The only date on the upcoming NBA calendar that’s set is the 2020 NBA draft, which will be held virtually on Nov. 18.
The league and union are expected to negotiate into next week, when the sides will have to come to agreements of the framework for the NBA’s immediate financial future.
Before the 2020-21 season can begin, the NBA will have to set the salary cap while determining dates to conduct business, including when players can accept and decline contract options, trades can be consummated and, eventually, free agents can be recruited and signed.