In a regular NBA league calendar year, the summer promises three things: the NBA Finals, the draft and free agency. While it’s possible that the NBA Finals will still be held in the summer, they will likely be played in September, not June.
As a result, next year’s league calendar will also be pushed back, and according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Friday, the league is already discussing several different scenarios scenarios for next season, including the possibility of the season starting the 2020-21 season in December as opposed to October:
As ownership support grows for the idea, Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors continued discussions Friday about delaying the start of the 2020-2021 season until December, sources told ESPN.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s thinking and planning has progressed on the idea independent of whether the 2019-2020 season is resumed and completed, sources said.
That last sentence could be viewed as a sign that the NBA is determined to the finish the 2019-20 season before then, which would support the rumors that have been leaked over the last few days. However, it seems the NBA is just as concerned — if not more concerned — with getting fans back into stadiums next season, and moving back the league calendar would increase the probability of that happening:
For the NBA, the crux of the idea to delay the start of next season centers on the ability to buy more time to get fans back into arenas for the most possible games next season, sources said.
There are no imminent plans to make a decision on the calendar, and this discussion will continue, sources said.
To be clear, there’s no guarantee that fans will be allowed in stadiums by December — in fact, I’d argue it’s unlikely. But December is more realistic than October, and it would give players more than a one-month offseason, assuming the 2019-20 season ends in September.
It would definitely be a change of pace for the NBA, but a season that starts in December and ends in July makes total sense, and that was true before this global pandemic. We’ll see what other changes this unprecedented time forces the NBA and other sports leagues to make.