Report: ‘Substantial faction’ of NBA stars, other players pushing back on December start date
While Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors are looking to zone in on a pre-Christmas start to the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, a number of players around the league aren’t too keen on such a quick turnaround after the 2019-20 campaign just finished a few weeks ago, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
Haynes reports a “substantial faction of players and star players” are pushing for this next season to start on Martin Luther King Day, which falls on Jan. 18. Free agency would then begin on Dec. 1 after the Nov. 18 NBA Draft based on this plan.
The Board of Governors met last week to discuss the upcoming offseason and the 2020-21 season. While MLK Day was recently a popular target date for the NBA, the league is now looking to get this season started sooner based on financial considerations and the desire to get the schedule back to normal, among other things. The Tokyo Olympics in the summer are also a consideration, as is avoiding going up against football. A 72-game schedule is being discussed, with MLB-style series being played to reduce travel.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe report NBA revenues dropped 10% to $8.3 billion amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with $800 million in gate receipt losses, $400 million in sponsorships and merchandise losses and $200 million in losses related to the China controversy. The league did recoup $1.5 billion in revenue by restarting and finishing the season in the NBA bubble at Disney World.
The NBA is staring at even steeper losses in 2020-21 with the likelihood of no fans in the stands due to the ongoing pandemic, with losses projected around $4 billion in a worst-case scenario. The NBA and NBPA are working together to figure out the financials in terms of the salary cap and luxury tax so things don’t go totally haywire in the coming years.
The league will certainly try to explain to all these players the financial benefits of starting the season sooner rather than later. Still, guys like Danny Green and Jared Dudley have hinted that stars such as LeBron James will have little interest in playing so soon after the end of this past season.