According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania, the players union has agreed with a league proposal to start the 2020-21 NBA season on December 22, less than seven weeks away, with training camp scheduled to open on December 1.
Woj and Shams also reported that the NBA’s trade moratorium will end on November 16, two days before the NBA Draft. Free Agency is likely begin a couple of days after the Draft, which will be held virtually from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut on November 18.
Here’s the basic information from Woj…
The NBPA’s board of player representatives voted to approve the pre-Christmas start in a conference call with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, sources said. The NBA and NBPA are planning to discuss the opening of free agency as quickly as possible after the Nov. 18 NBA draft to accommodate player movement with such a short window to the opening of training camps on Dec. 1, sources said.
… and Shams.
The NBA will play a 72-game season, with training camps opening on Dec. 1, the regular season ending on May 16 and the Finals finishing no later than July 22, sources said. The NBA will play in markets, reduce their travel by 25 percent, and significantly reduce cross-country travel especially early in the season, sources said.
Spencer Dinwiddie apparently spoke for a lot of players with this tweet not long after news broke of the deal and schedule…
3.5weeks. Get ready bros.
— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) November 6, 2020
Then, after fans wrote back that he should get the Sixth Man of the Year award, he wrote back…
The games will be played, at least initially, without fans, although there were reports that if local authorities permit, suite owners will be permitted to attend games but with enhanced safety and health measures. According to reports, the NBA now hopes to have 25-to-50 percent capacity in arena suites for 2020-21.
The news also included details on how the league’s collective bargaining agreement will be effected.
Shams reports that the likely salary cap for this offseason will be $109 million, as has been projected. Players, however, will have to set aside part of their salaries —estimated at 17 to 18 percent— to help make up for the league’s loss of revenue due to the double whammy of COVID-19 and the NBA’s dispute with Chinese authorities. CCTV-5, the Chinese sports channel, restarted broadcasting NBA games at the tail end of the NBA Finals. Whether China will carry NBA games this coming season remains unclear.
For the NBA and the players, a December 22 start — rather than an alternate plan to open up on January 18, Martin Luther King Day — will mean a difference of $500 million in revenue. Also, the league’s television partners wanted the league’s traditional Christmas Day programming, a big ratings draw. There were other priorities as well, like segueing to the normal October-to-June schedule for 2021-22, and not interfering with the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The league and union still have to work out some details, including safety and health protocols. Unlike the Orlando “bubble,” with its closed environment, the season will now mimic MLB and NFL schedules with games in teams’ home venues (but with continued daily coronavirus testing.) One issue not discussed in the initial reports is where the Raptors will play. International travel restrictions —including 14-say quarantines after border crossings— forced the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays to play their home games across the border in Buffalo. Several arenas, including Prudential Center in Newark or even Barclays Center, have been mentioned as candidates for the Raptors.
As for the upcoming end to the trade moratorium, the Nets are rumored to be interested in seeking a “third star” to play alongside KD and Kyrie. However, there are some who believe that front offices, faced with such a shortened free agency and training camp, will postpone big deals until the trade deadline, likely to be in March.
But the big news in Brooklyn is that Durant, who missed all of last season following an Achilles rupture, and Irving, who missed all but 20 games due to shoulder surgery, will combine on the court for the first time. Both have been rehabbing in southern California, as have other Nets players. Reports from eyewitnesses suggest that despite their surgeries and lengthy rehabs, they look good.
Indeed on an Sirius XM podcast, Brian Windhorst reported those who’ve watched the two have given “glowing reviews” of the Nets duo, adding, “these guys are ready to play.”
And of course, December 22 will also mark the debut of the Nets new head coach, Steve Nash, and his star-studded staff led by Mike D’Antoni and Amar’e Stoudemire.
As for Barclays Center, there will be improvements there as well, including enhanced ingress and egress, including the use of X-ray machines at entrances as well as the construction of new entrances. The team store will also be moved and expanded to reduce crowding.
“We have lots of plans. Those plans have served as a template, but we’ll adapt. I know we’ll be ready whenever the season starts,” John Abbamondi, the Nets new CEO, told Brian Lewis. “And we’ll do everything in our power to keep not only our players, but our fans healthy as we come back in some sense of normalcy as we wage this fight against the virus.”