The NBA Playoffs are rolling right along in the Disney Bubble, but looming on the other side of the Finals are negotiations and discussion between the league and players association about how to proceed with next season, from working out the all-important financials and salary cap to picking a start date for the 2020-21 season.
Adam Silver spoke with Bob Costas on CNN on Tuesday and explained that it might simply be the 2021 season, with him currently realizing the likelihood of a January start date for next season. Silver noted that the longer they push back, the greater the possibility of returning in home arenas with fans is, and that has to be the goal for the NBA for a variety of reasons.
Silver: "Best guess is that won't season won't start till 2021… the more I'm learning, I continue to believe we'll be better getting into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season, 82-game season and playoffs. In home arenas, in front of fans."
— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) September 22, 2020
While the league would surely like a Christmas start date, with the NBA Draft pushed back to Nov. 18 that wouldn’t leave much time for free agency and training camp. A January start might provide the opportunity for limited fans in the stands from the start, which is the goal for a league that is already dealing with the financial ramifications of the restarted season in a Bubble and will be seeking as much normal revenue as possible from next season.
A lot of that will come down to the status of a vaccine, as NBA arenas have a larger hurdle to clear than football stadiums in that they are, for one, smaller, and more importantly indoors which increases the possibility of spread. As such, there are plenty of logistics to figure out, but from a player perspective, while Bubble leagues have proven to be the most successful in preventing cases, the early returns from the NFL have been pretty good and after some serious early hiccups, MLB has seemed to find its groove with playing in home stadiums as well.
There are plenty of questions moving forward, but it seems as though the league is becoming more patient about the start of next season, which began with pushing the draft date back a month and, now understandably, shifting expectations for a season start date to early 2021.