The NBA and NBPA have a provisional agreement that the 2020-21 NBA season will start on December 22. There will be a 72-game season that will wrap up on the regular timeline with the NBA Finals in June.
NBA owners had previously agreed to the plan and NBA players voted to approve the plan on Thursday. Some NBA teams and players that went deep into the 2020 NBA Playoffs wanted next season to start later, likely around Martin Luther King Day in mid-January. The vast majority of teams, including the eight teams that were not a part of the re-started 2019-20 season, wanted to start the season in late-December.
By starting the season just before Christmas instead of MLK Day, the NBA will recoup somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion dollars. This is largely due to fulfilling television contracts. Most contacts with Regional Sports Networks (like NBC Boston), are fulfilled when teams play 70 games. An MLK Day start would have delivered a 60-game season. That would have led to adjustments with the TV contracts and less revenue.
On a national level, there were concerns that ABC/ESPN and TNT would want adjustments if the NBA didn’t deliver games on Christmas Day. Christmas has become the key date on the NBA television calendar, and is a major revenue driver for those networks.
Here is what we know is now agreed to for the 2020-21 season:
· 2020 NBA Draft will take place on November 18
· Transaction moratorium is expected to be lifted sometime in the week before the draft
· The 2020-21 NBA league year and the opening of free agency will start shortly after the draft, likely on November 20 or November 21
· The salary cap for 2020-21 will remain flat at the 2019-20 mark of just over $109 million
· The luxury tax and tax apron for 2020-21 are expected to remain flat as well, but that is still TBD
· The salary cap will rise by a minimum of 2% each season through the end of the current CBA. This is a minimum, and the cap could rise more if revenues recover earlier than expected.
· Option dates, guarantee dates and qualifying offer deadlines are all still TBD
· NBA training camps will open on or around December 1
· NBA season will tip off on December 22
For the Boston Celtics, they can now begin some more concrete planning beyond the NBA Draft date. While option dates are still unknown, Danny Ainge and the front office now have other dates, and cap figures, to work with. Brad Stevens can begin mapping out a training camp plan as well.
The Celtics still have a few outstanding items prior to free agency opening:
· Gordon Hayward’s $34.2 million player option
· Enes Kanter’s $5 million player option
· Semi Ojeleye’s $1.7 million team option and subsequent guarantee
· Daniel Theis’ $5 million guarantee
· Brad Wanamaker’s $1.8 million qualifying offer
· Tacko Fall’s $1.4 million two-way qualifying offer
· Tremont Waters’ $1.4 million two-way qualifying offer
CelticsBlog previously previewed every item Ainge is facing when building the 2020-21 roster here.
Stay tuned to CelticsBlog for all the latest news on Hayward’s option date and when 2020 NBA free agency will open.