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The NBA season is officially starting the week of Christmas

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the NBA is giving everyone a reason to get excited this holiday season. Well, everyone except maybe the Lakers, that is.

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2nd Annual Juglife Ugly Sweater Holiday Party Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

It’s official: After it leaked on Wednesday that NBA players were expected to start the 2020-21 season the week of Christmas, multiple reporters now say the deal is tentatively agreed to.

The NBA is (almost) back:

The NBPA quickly confirmed the news:

We will keep updating this story as more details surface, and will cover all of this as it pertains to the Lakers over the days and weeks to come, but our original story on how the quick return will likely affect the Lakers follows.

The Los Angeles Lakers are back. Or at least the almost are, because the NBA season appears set to return sooner than any of us probably thought was possible when they raised their 17th championship trophy in October. According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN, the league and players are on the verge of an agreement to start the season the week of Christmas, saving the opportunity for the league’s traditional, marquee matchups on the holiday itself:

The NBA’s Board of Governors and Players Association are holding separate meetings on Thursday expected to culminate with an agreement on starting the 2020-2021 season on Dec. 22 and playing a reduced 72-game schedule, sources tell ESPN.

The NBPA is planning to take a formal vote of the team player representatives on late Thursday, and sources tell ESPN everything is progressing toward an agreement on a pre-Christmas start to the season. The NBPA is holding team conference calls this week, including several on Wednesday, that detailed discussions with the league on a salary escrow for players in the range of 18% for the next two years, sources told ESPN.

Sources say the teams representatives are expected to approve the agreement

Marc Stein of the New York Times offered further confirmation that this really seems to be happening:

Things have been moving this way since Tuesday, when players reportedly were beginning to feel as though the season starting on the week of Christmas was “inevitable.” It’s also obviously a really quick turnaround, and the players on the Lakers surely won’t be happy about it, as their comments have already indicated. But the reality is that most of the league has been off for months, so they were probably outvoted by their fellow players, who both didn’t want the league to lose more revenue and are surely also itching to get back on the court.

This agreement will lead to one of the most hectic and expedited offseasons the league has ever seen, with the draft, free agency and training camps all taking place in the span of just over a month.

Organizations and players are proceeding with the urgency of a quick-turnaround to the start of the season, including the Nov. 18 NBA Draft, free agency and training camps starting on Dec. 1, sources said. Once an agreement is reached, the league will lift a moratorium and re-open the league for business on trades prior to the draft.

The Lakers may be ready for this. General manager Rob Pelinka won praise for how quickly his contingency plans allowed him to move after the Lakers were rejected by Kawhi Leonard in July of 2019, and now he, Kurt Rambis and the rest of this front office will be put to an even more grueling test.

That trial will pale in comparison to what this will force the Lakers to go through on the court, however. This team will certainly get some of the benefits that come with continuity, but their veteran legs will also assuredly have to be load managed a lot more than last year to help this team continue its recovery process from the longest championship run in NBA history, all while they begin their title defense. Head coach Frank Vogel is going to have a perilous tight rope to walk to manage all of it, and the players will have to be cautious with their bodies as well.

Still, in the end, basketball being back sooner than we thought is never something to be upset about. This plan could lead to potential perils; not being in a bubble carries risk, as does pushing a bunch of games into a tight window to make money and get the NBA back closer to a normal schedule. Those are tradeoffs we can accept, though, because it means we get to watch this version of the Lakers play once again. Even if they’ll have to be careful, that will always bring some joy during a year that hasn’t had much of it.

This story will update with more details as it develops. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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