According to multiple sources, the NBA Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) will hold separate talks that are likely to produce an agreement to commence the 2020-2021 NBA season on December 22.
Both sides are expected to accept the terms and conditions for a 2020-2021 season with a reduced 72-game schedule. The NBA intends to launch the season with games in official team arenas without the presence of spectators in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. Cities that do allow spectators will administer Coronavirus tests for fans with courtside seats. Arenas from these areas will have to install new air purifying systems. The league also plans to conduct consecutive, multiple home games to reduce travel.
As stated in the reports, starting just before the Christmas holidays will allow the league to broadcast marquee matchups which have always been a consistent revenue earner for the league. The NBA’s lineup of holiday games is estimated to generate between $500 million and $1 billion in earnings. Still, the league is expected to lose money this season due to restrictions and constraints imposed by the pandemic. Last season, the NBA lost more than $1 billion in revenue.
A late December start of the season ensures that the NBA Finals will not overlap with the 2021 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo which were postponed from earlier this year to mid-July next year because of the global health crisis. This timeline is favored by TV and cable networks and advertisers because it maximizes potential earnings from both sporting events.
At the start of the negotiations, the players were hesitant to begin a new season so soon after the completion of the 2019-2020 Finals in October. A majority of the players preferred a new season with fewer games that starts in January and ends by August. The players’ union only relented to a December start date after considering that a season that will end in July would make it possible for the league to revert to its regular schedule (October to June) for the 2021-2022 campaign.