While the NBA Finals just wrapped up less than two weeks ago, the start of next season might be closer than originally anticipated.
According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, the NBA is eyeing Dec. 22 as the start date for the 2020-21 season — it was first reported the NBA was looking at Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a potential starting point — as well as shortening the regular season to 72 games to finish before the Summer Olympics begin.
The NBA is targeting Dec. 22 for the start of the 2020-21 season and a 72-game campaign that finishes before the ‘21 Olympics, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 23, 2020
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that at Friday’s NBA Board of Governors meeting, several topics about next season were on the table, including having a play-in tournament and limiting travel since the NBA will no longer have the luxury of playing in a bubble environment.
Wojnarowski added that the NBA is also looking into canceling the All-Star Game for this season, which is slated to be held in Indianapolis, but a final decision on the event has yet to be made.
Sources: NBA and Board Governors continued discussion on call today about playing something resembling more of a baseball series to limit travel outside of bubble. For example, a team might travel to New York and play its two road games against Knicks and one vs. Nets. https://t.co/ObuqSkNXCB— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2020
The NBA initially hoped by further delaying the start of next season it would give the league a chance to have fans in attendance for games. But according to Wojnarowski, with two-thirds of the league playing in cities that prohibit large gatherings along with the uncertainty that comes with the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA is envisioning moving its timeline up instead of waiting to be able to put fans in seats.
Because approximately two-thirds of the league’s current jurisdictions still aren’t allowing large gatherings of people – as well as the ominous current trajectory of the virus – the NBA has become less apt to delay start of season and wait on return of fans, sources said. https://t.co/owCgERQOEX— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2020
If the NBA’s plan for starting next season a few days before Christmas comes to fruition, it means the Celtics, who were ousted from the Eastern Conference Finals on Sept. 27 by the Miami Heat, will have less than three months of an offseason to recuperate and prepare for a new campaign.