The NBA seems to be pushing harder and harder to get the players union to agree to a season start date on (or just before) Christmas Day. Reports first surfaced last week that doing so was a target for the league, and now we have confirmed why: Shams Charania of the Athletic reports that the league thinks it would lose $500 million by not getting its marquee Christmas Day showdowns.
It remains to be seen if the NBPA concurs with that projection, but if they do and agree to start then, the 2020-21 season would begin just around two months after the 2019-20 version ended. We already know that the NBA Draft is going to be on Nov. 18, and according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, some teams are preparing for free agency and training camps to begin not long after:
Some teams, I'm told, are preparing for NBA free agency to begin as early as Nov. 20 or Nov. 21 -- 48 to 72 hours after the Nov. 18 NBA Draft -- if the plan to start the 2020-21 season Dec. 22 goes ahead. Further clarity is expected by week's end ...— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 27, 2020
Dec. 1, I'm told, has emerged as the likely opening day for NBA training camps if the league's plan to set Dec. 22 as opening night of the 2020-21 season is approved by the union— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 27, 2020
Free agency beginning on that date Stein reports — or around then — would mean that players would have to opt in to our out of their contracts even sooner (there is still no firm date for that yet). We already know that Anthony Davis is reportedly planning to opt out and re-sign, but it’s less clear what Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will do after they opt out and enter free agency, and it’s still not known for sure if Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee will opt in or out to their own player options (although them both opting in seems likely at this point).
After all those decisions are made, the Lakers will have to decide how much of their roster to re-sign and how many new additions to try and make, decisions that could be affected by how quickly this season is approaching right after they finished the prior one. And if that process is expedited, there may be benefits in leaning towards more continuity, something our own Sabreena Merchant broke down the pluses of already.
Whatever happens in free agency, though, the Lakers will likely have a lot of the same roster that just won a title. And while there is an upside to organizational consistency and familiarity, it’s also clear that the team itself will not exactly be thrilled with getting so little time off, and may have to load manage to an almost unprecedented degree. That may influence some of their free agency decisions as well, potentially making sure they add at least one or two fresher contributors to balance out their veteran’s tired legs.
Whatever happens, though, it’s clear that the Lakers’ road to a repeat is not going to be easy, and may begin sooner than any of us probably imagined. It seems like a certainty we’ll be finding out exactly when it will start in short order.
Get ready, what will probably be one of the craziest NBA offseasons we’ve ever is quickly approaching.