Players Association gives green light to December start for NBA season
The National Basketball Players Association, the body which represents players in North America’s NBA, has voted to approve a plan for a 22 December start to the 2020-21 season, with a reduced 72-game schedule.
In a statement the NBPA confirmed the move, saying: “Additional details remain to be negotiated and the NBPA is confident that the parties will reach agreement on these remaining issues relevant to the upcoming season.”
The campaign is starting later than usual, with fewer games, after the 2019-20 campaign was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a normal season, each NBA team plays 82 games in the regular season, from October to April, with the playoffs following from April to June.
When it resumed, with a reduced schedule, the 2019-20 season concluded with playoffs at a bubble site at Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports in Florida, with the Los Angeles Lakers running out winners.
It is thought that the NBA is eager to complete its season before the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which start on 23 July, 2021.
It was reported that the NBA was already projecting losses of up to $4 billion if fans are not allowed back into arenas for the new season, and feared that an additional $500 million to $1 billion could be lost if the campaign did not start until 2021.
The vote of the NBPA board, which has a player representative from each team, is the first part of a potentially lengthy process.
Among the primary issues still to be determined include how much collateral will be taken from players’ salaries due to the shorter-than-usual season and how the league and how the players will navigate testing and other health and safety issues amid the continuing pandemic.
The NBA and NBPA are expected to discuss the opening of free agency as soon as possible after the 18 November NBA draft to accommodate player movement before the opening of training camps on 1 December.
The league and players are also still negotiating financial terms of an amended collective bargaining agreement, and those talks are expected to continue to next week.
The league’s financial structure allows for a 50-50 split of basketball related income under the provisions of the CBA, but the league has reportedly told teams 40 per cent of that revenue could be lost without spectators.
Basketball-related income was down $1.5 billion last season, according to data provided by the league to the teams.