UPDATED with tentative deal: The National Basketball Players Association has tentatively approved the NBA’s plan to begin the 2020-21 season on December 22 with a 72-game schedule. The agreement clears an important hurdle in the league’s return, though matters like free agency and other details still need to be worked out.
The COVID-shortened 2019-20 season ended October 11 when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The season was cut short after the pandemic lockdown, with the remainder of regular season games and the postseason played in a bubble in Orlando.
The NBA has been pushing for a quick restart to the season to stem losses from a shorter season with the possibility of no fans in their arenas if the decision is made to play outside a bubble. The league reportedly lost close to $1.5 billion in its truncated season.
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NBPA STATEMENT ON THE 2020-2021 NBA SEASON START DATE AND SCHEDULE
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) November 6, 2020
PREVIOUSLY, November 4 PM: It’s going to be a strange Christmas in this pandemic year, but one tradition looks likely to be around – the National Basketball Association’s annual televised roundup of games from morning to night.
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ESPN reports that the NBA’s board of governors and players’ association will meet separately on Thursday to get final approvals on starting the new season Dec. 22. It marks an incredibly short turnaround from the championship game, which was decided Oct. 11 when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat.
Christmas games were a big sticking point for the league, which gets premium revenue from its TV partners for those games. The money is sorely needed after the league was rumored to have lost close to $1.5 billion dollars in its truncated 2019-2020 season. It also faces at least part of its season with no to few fans permitted to attend the games in person.
In return for starting quickly, the league will reportedly play a reduced 72-game schedule, sources told ESPN. The player representatives are expected to approve the agreement with the league.
If an agreement is reached, NBA teams will have to scramble. Training camp would start Dec. 1. No announcements have been made on whether the teams would again be confined to a bubble to prevent COVID-19 infections, as they did in the second half of the league’s regular season schedule and playoffs.
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