The NBA is still trying to map out what the 2020-21 season will look like. Potential start dates have been all over the place, with the most recent indications being that the league believes it will have to wait until Jan. 2021 to tip things off following the most recent season getting delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s been reported that the NBA hopes to have a full, 82-game season with a postseason, something that isn’t a big surprise considering this year had to be shortened. There is, however, a pretty big issue hanging over this: The largest international basketball tournament, the Summer Olympics, are slated to occur in some form or fashion in the summer of 2021, and many of the NBA’s best players will want to participate.
Prior to Game 2 of the 2020 NBA Finals on Friday evening, commissioner Adam Silver addressed this, saying that he does not believe the league would install any kind of break during the Olympics.
“We’ll consider it. I think it’s unlikely, at the end of the day, that, if we start late, we would stop for the Olympics,” Silver said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Because, as you know, it’s not just a function of stopping for the period in which they are competing over in Tokyo. But they require training camp, and then they require rest afterwards.”
Silver did concede that while Team USA would in all likelihood be fine, this would be difficult for international teams that rely heavily on the players they boast in the NBA. If the league would push things back three months from its normal schedule and tip off the 2020-21 season in January, a full, 82-game season with a full postseason would mean the year would end around August or September.
This, of course, would mean the Olympics – currently slated to start in late-July — would occur during the playoffs. There is no guarantee the Olympics happen based on how things are going amid the pandemic, but the lack of a break would make for an awkward situation for players who want to participate but are on playoff teams.