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The NBA’s plans for the 2020-21 schedule, revealed

NBA, Adam Silver

The NBA has indicated to league general managers that it could condense next season’s regular-season schedule to keep the league as close to its usual timeline as possible, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

The 2020-21 season is currently slated to start on Dec. 1, though the date is fairly fluid.

According to ESPN Insider Bobby Marks, the league used 177 days to fit in all 82 games for the 30 teams through the 2019-20 regular season. The league had been using 170 days for the regular season, but expanded the calendar another week to help reduce the number of back-to-backs.

That Dec. 1 start would cause the regular season to culminate on May 26, more than five weeks after the normal mid-April end of the regular season.

That’s to be expected, however, as the league calendar has recently started in late October and spanned under mid-April.

A reduced schedule would possibly cut from 15-20 games off the regular season, similar to what the league experienced during a lockout 2011-12 season.

The 161-day lockout began on July 1, 2011 (the first day of free agency) and ended on December 8, 2011, delaying the start of the 2011–12 regular season and reducing the number of games from 82 to 66.

The 2011-12 regular season started on Christmas Day and rolled on until April 26, 2012, though using a crunched schedule that greatly affected the quality of play. The league had re-implemented the “triple” or three-game set 64 times during that campaign, something that soon resulted in older players sitting out for fatigue.

It’s worth considering that the NBA has learned from its mistakes and would still favor spacing out games to reduce the number of back-to-back games in any scenario.

This is only a warning shot as to what may await in 2020-21, as any proposed reduction of the schedule will have to go through the vote of the Board of Governors and the players’ union before it’s deemed final.