Friday will finally provide some clarity on the NBA’s 2020-21 season plan as the league and its player’s association (NBAPA) plan to vote this week on a format of play.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania initially reported Tuesday that the vote would take place with players believing a Dec. 22 start to the season is “inevitable.”
Under the plan, the NBA will have a 72-game season with a regular-season finish in May and the postseason deciding a champion by no later than July 22.
The other option on the table is that the league picks up play on or around Martin Luther King Day, which is on Jan. 18 in 2021. A later start means that only 60 games would be played in the regular season with the Finals finishing no later than Aug. 21.
A Dec. 22 start would obviously bring in more revenue for the NBA considering more games were being played. It also allows them to take center stage on one of its banner days of the regular season, Christmas Day — a holiday in which it holds a monopoly over.
Per Charania, the NBPA told its players on calls that “the financial ramifications of a December start loom large,” because of the revenue that comes in through television networks and league partners who want basketball on Christmas Day.
The plan would also allow the league to get back on track for the 2021-22 season, affording it enough time to properly prepare for a regularly-scheduled October-June campaign.
That being said, an earlier start means less rest for a league that just crowned a champion less than one month ago. It also gives the league and its teams just over a month to hold its draft, assimilate new players, and effectively carry out a free-agency signing period in short order.
While a Jan. 18 starting plan would give players and staff a few extra weeks of rest and preparation time, it would interfere with the 2021 Summer Olympics which, according to Charania, would “affect advertisement sales for the networks.”