The NBA wants to play 82 games in home arenas with fans present next season. Which, sure. That’d be nice.
But coronavirus looms and could continue to limit revenue.
Maybe not the following season, though.
The focus for next season, primarily, is getting things finished in a reasonable amount of time for the draft, free agency and rest in the summer of 2021 for a traditional mid-October start.
Apparently never mind about regularly beginning the season in December.
This points to next season starting sooner than later. Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) is the hot rumor. But the season could begin earlier in January – or even as early as Christmas. Later dates like March seem increasingly farfetched, as does pausing for the Olympics.
At this point, it seems everyone is realizing next season will be impacted regardless. Better to avoid future complications.
But even if the season begins on Christmas, that’s off kilter by more than two months for a normal mid-October start. The NBA would have fewer than 10 months to complete a calendar that usually takes a full a year. There are three potential solutions:
Reducing the number of games would be the most directly financially harmful. Reducing off days, during and/or after the season, poses health risks.
So, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes multiple years to cycle back to normal. The NBA could shave a few days from the offseason each year rather than cutting two-plus months in a single year.
But the goal is apparently to get back on track around this time next year. As long as that remains the case, something has to give to shorten the typical year-long calendar by at least two months.