The week already figured to be a busy one for the league, as the mutually agreed upon deadline for negotiating changes to the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and player’s union is set for October 30. The league’s board of governors has been holding virtual calls to go through the different areas that need attention, and one of those areas is the actual start date of the season. According to previous reports, the most popular date was widely considered to be in mid-January, but The Athletic’s Shams Charania provided an update that puts the new season much sooner.
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
In his article, Charania goes through some of the driving forces behind this surprising acceleration, including the financial ramifications of starting the season on (or before) the Christmas holiday. That seems important, given the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds are still under discussion, and the outcome will significantly impact the Milwaukee Bucks’ offseason moves.
The league had never taken a Christmas Day start off the table, but all signs coming out of the Bubble pointed to next season being pushed into 2021— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 23, 2020
Christmas is obviously a huge day for the NBA and its broadcast partners ... but MUCH must happen quickly quickly to preserve it
This news comes as a surprise since the league demonstrated a much stronger adherence to guidelines promoting health and safety with the Orlando bubble (relative to their peers in baseball and football), and the previous news from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst, and Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that the league’s priority (read: the owners’ priority) was to hold a full season with fans allowed to
purchase tickets, concessions, and merchandise enjoy the game inside each team’s home arena, even if that meant a later start.
ESPN reporting with @WindhorstESPN, @ZachLowe_NBA and me on NBA Board of Governors meeting underway today to discuss plans for 2020-21 season, including possible start date as soon as Christmas Day: https://t.co/1ZR9ESSy7r— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2020
Regardless, the league has already committed to announcing the start of the new season with no less than eight weeks’ warning, which will give Jon Horst enough time to deploy his offseason moves (whatever moves are available), Mike Budenholzer to figure out what to do differently, and Giannis Antetokounmpo can return from his stay in Europe. Just like with the bubble, this ramp-up period will affect each team equally, and as more details get released we can better predict how these decisions will impact the Bucks.