With Covid-19 Still running rampant in our country, we are left with many questions about the status of the 2020-2021 NBA season. When will it start? Will it be in Orlando again? Will fans be able to attend? After the 2019-2020 season ended late in October due to the virus nothing would be off the table.
Adam Silver and the rest of the NBA board of governors met to speak on a return date for the NBA. They first aimed to start the season mid-January around Martin Luther King Jr. Day but recently there have been talks to move it up to Dec. 22 right before Christmas. According to ESPN, this change in schedule was made to include the holiday season which is usually a very profitable time for the NBA. Usually, the NBA saves the bigger games for Christmas, like Clippers vs Lakers or Raptors vs Celtics.
Different Players, understandably, have had different reactions to starting the season earlier. Danny Green has been a player who has been vocal about his concerns about starting the season early. When asked about his thoughts about the early start date of Dec. 22, Green said “ I’m not there … I think most guys, if they say we start in December I think they're like ‘I’m not gonna be there’” he also specifically mentioned how he does not expect to see Lebron for the first month of the season if it was to start in December. This would give the NBA a reason to pause because they want their stars to play if they are going to start in December. As previously mentioned, Christmas is one of the most profitable days for the NBA, but if starting in December meant the biggest stars would not play, then they would have to re-think starting in December.
Most players right now are not in support of the early start, however starting later would affect their salary. Usually, the NBA takes about 10 percent of the NBA players in escrow and depending on how much money the league brings in, the players and the owner split the money 50–50. However, According to Bleacher report the NBA is talking about holding back up to 25 percent of the player’s salary in escrow if they cancel games. There are currently no plans to cancel any games for the 2020-2021 season, but once they do, players would be losing 1.08 percent of their salary. Under normal circumstances, 10 percent of the player’s salary would be held at least until next year. This isn’t a big change for players like Stephan Curry who would still be looking at more than $25 million, however for younger players like Carson Edwards of the Celtics could be making less than a million dollars when they were expecting about $1.5 million.
According to Adam Silver, "The goal for us next season is to play a standard season, 82-game season and playoffs. In-home arenas, in front of fans.” It is unclear how he plans to do this or what changes he would have to implement to allow fans, but there is still a lot of work that would have to be done to achieve Silver's goal. Also, It would likely look different for every home team. I would Imagine the Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors, would have different rules on allowing fans due to the fact that Canada has dealt with the virus better than most cities in America.
Adrian Wojnarowski, Senior NBA Insider is now reporting that the NBA is finalizing a deal that would approve the NBA to start on Dec. 22, however it will be a 72-game season. According to ESPN, there was a group of star players in this meeting who did not want to approve of this, however Lebron James was not one of those players. James is in support of the December 22 start date despite not necessarily being thrilled about it. Still in negotiation, however is the financial term of this season. Currently, the owners are looking at holding about 18 percent in escrow. Windhorst reports: “Only taking about 18 percent when the numbers might actually call for 25 to 30 percent was a gift for the players [that] was done to try to convince them to start on Christmas week”. The league is still unclear of the safety precautions that will be taken or what the guidelines will be for free agency, but it looks like we will be getting basketball before Christmas.