NBA management has reportedly come to an agreement with its players to start the 2020-21 season just before the holidays. After a pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers taking home the title in September, the league will be back in action on December 22, with plans for a 72-game regular season.
The details were agreed to after a vote by the National Basketball Players Association Thursday. Plans are to open free agency soon after the planned November 18 NBA draft with training camps opening December 1, according to ESPN.
“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 NBPA said in a statement.
The desire to play games at home arenas is a big part of the league’s plan for the upcoming season, with franchises hoping to be able to accommodate fans wherever local officials will permit attendance. Revenue loss associated with the March decision to halt operations and then restart over the summer in a “bubble” setting cost the league approximately $1.5 billion in basketball-related revenue.
Among the discussions remaining before the season plan is finalized is how to restructure the salary picture for players in the coming year with the assumption that revenue will be lower than most seasons due to the shorter regular season and the likelihood that fan attendance will be greatly reduced if allowed at all in most markets.
The calendar agreed upon will allow the league to complete its playoffs prior to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which were put off from 2020 due to the pandemic.