The NBA wants to play a 72-game season beginning Dec. 22.

Players are balking at starting so soon.

So, the league is making threats – like a 50-game season.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

NBA players may only be offered a 50-game season, I’m told, if the union insists on a mid-January start rather than the Dec. 22 proposal, because the league’s television partners do not want the 2020-21 season to stray past mid-July … or clash with the Tokyo Olympics

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 30, 2020

This would explain the $500 million difference between starting Dec. 22 and starting later (most likely Martin Luther King Day [Jan. 18]). The union can and should check the league’s math. But the basic principle holds true: More games, more money.

If the priorities are finishing the season by the Tokyo Olympics (which are scheduled to begin July 23) and starting the following season in October, beginning later would leave less time for games.

But shortening the season by 27 days would mean each team plays 22 fewer games? That doesn’t add up. This sounds like an exaggerated threat by the NBA.

Of course, the NBA also has a very-real card in its hand – terminating the Collective Bargaining Agreement and causing a lockout.

Most likely, things won’t devolve that far. The system ties owners and players with split revenue. Both sides just showed strong cooperation with the bubble.

Today is the deadline for terminating the CBA. Players will probably allow that deadline to be pushed back again. A deal could be reached soon.

But each day, it becomes more difficult to maximize the number of games (i.e., the amount of revenue) next season. Both sides are negotiating through the media.

It’s getting more tense.

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