Though owners have been targeting Dec. 1 as the start date for the 2020-2021 NBA season, Commissioner Adam Silver says there’s a chance the season could start even later if it means getting more fans in arenas down the road.
The December 1 start date, of course, was never written in stone and, in some league circles, there was the feeling that Christmas Day–which, in the past, was considered the “real” start of the NBA season because the traditional New York Knicks Christmas game at Madison Square Garden marked the beginning of the national-broadcast schedule–would serve just as well as a season opener. Owners have already decided against another bubble undertaking, but other twists on the schedule, like some sort of in-season tournament, are reportedly in the works.
Silver, making his remarks in a pre-draft lottery interview on ESPN, didn’t exactly make a long proclamation on the 2020-2021 season:
“I’d say December 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me….
“I think our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas,” he said. “So my sense is, in working with the Players Association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”
There is no doubt that everything collected with the 2020-2021 NBA season is starting to feel a little truncated. As of now, the draft is set for Oct. 16, free-agency season beginning Oct. 18, and training camps opening on Nov. 10. Considering we could the NBA postseason go as far as Oct. 12, that’s not a lot of time for teams and players to prep for another season.
Financially, bringing those fans back into arenas is a big deal: the league does roughly $8 billion a season in revenues, and about 40 percent of that is tied to arena-driven revenues, including gate receipts and in-game sponsorships. After losing in-game revenues for the last three months of the regular season and the postseason, the sooner arenas can be opened the better.