We’re approaching Halloween–traditionally when the regular season launches–but we still don’t have a date for the 2020-2021 NBA season start, as players and owners apparently disagree on a course of action.
We’re seeing other winter leagues firm up 2020-2021 schedules, with the NHL looking at a January 1 launch and the AHL season launch in February.
NBA owners and management obviously want 2020-2021 NBA season start to come as soon as possible, compressing the traditional offseason activities (draft, free-agent signings, camp) as much as possible and have floated a Dec. 22 launch date. That’s a little too soon for the players who just spent weeks in the Orlando bubble and want more time to decompress. A December 1 opening of training camps is too soon for them (though, apparently, not for the team who were not part of the bubble; they’re rarin’ to go) and they’d like to see a Jan. 18 (Martin Luther King Day) beginning of the season.
“Given all that has to be resolved between now and a Dec. 22 date, factoring that there will be financial risks by a later start date, it defies common sense that it can all be done in time,” Roberts told The Athletic. “Our players deserve the right to have some runway so that they can plan for a start that soon. The overwhelming response from the players that I have received to this proposal has been negative.
“The union and the players are analyzing all of the information and will not be rushed,” Roberts continued. “We have requested and are receiving data from the parties involved and will work on a counterproposal as expeditiously as possible. I have absolutely no reason to believe that we will have a decision by Friday. I cannot and will not view Friday as a drop dead date.”
Money, of course, is the motivator toward starting as soon as possible. Launching on December 22 as opposed to January allows for broadcast schedules to kick in earlier, and NBA officials say an extra $500 million to flow into league coffers with the earlier start. Broadcasting the traditional Christmas Day New York Knicks game from Madison Square Garden would certainly be a boost for the league’s image as well.