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The NBA players union is unlikely to agree to a season start date in December by the end of this week

The NBPA wants more time to mull over the NBA’s proposal for the 2020-21 season.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Last week, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the NBA is hoping to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, just over 10 weeks from the day the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and were crowed champions. Since then, more small details have about the league’s plans for next season have been reported, such as the possibility of a shortened, 72-game season and a travel schedule inspired by the MLB.

However, none of those plans will mean anything unless the NBPA agrees to them, and according to Charania’s latest report, there is still a good amount of negotiating that has to be done between the NBA and NBPA before Friday, when the league and union can decide to terminate the existing collective bargaining agreement:

Ahead of Friday’s deadline between the NBA and National Basketball Players Association for either side to serve notice to terminate the collective bargaining agreement, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts told The Athletic that the union and players are continuing to review the league’s proposal to begin the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22 and that she does not expect any decision by the end of the week.

“The union and the players are analyzing all of the information and will not be rushed,” Roberts told The Athletic. “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.”

Now, does this mean the NBA is headed for a lockout for the first time since 2011? Not exactly.

The NBA and NBPA have already extended the deadline for their negotiating window a handful of times already; most recently on Oct. 15. If both parties can’t reach an agreement before Friday, which seems like the most probable outcomes, the deadline will likely be extended again.

It also doesn’t mean that a Dec. 22 start date is off of the table, however, there’s reason for the NBA to be pessimistic about their proposal being accepted. In Charania’s report, Robert says that the response to the league’s proposal has been “negative, which is essentially what we’ve heard from Lakers players this past week, whether it’s been directly through them or through reports.

It’s possible that the NBA and NBPA come to an agreement sooner rather than later once all of the financial implications of a January start are laid out, but right now, it’s not looking to promising for the league. There will likely be an update on the negotiations on Friday.

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