SALT LAKE CITY — The start of the next NBA season continues to get pushed back.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday at CITIZEN by CNN his "best guess" is that the season won’t begin until January.
In July, the NBA hoped to begin the 2020-21 season on Dec. 1; earlier this month, Christmas Day was the target.
"We said a week ago or so that the earliest we would start is Christmas of this year. But the more I’m learning, even listening to Dr. (Anthony) Fauci this morning, I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January," Silver said.
Even with the late start, Silver said the goal is still to play a full 82-game season and to have fans in the stands.
"But there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing for example," Silver said. "Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings? Will there be other protections? Some of the things we’re learning down in Orlando currently on the campus down there and also clearly learning a lot from other sports — what baseball is currently doing, what football is doing sort of as college sports has begun playing."
The information is still coming in — and even sports that have originally allowed fans have had to pull back a bit (like BYU has had to do for Saturday’s home football game against Troy) — so don’t expect concrete plans any time soon.
"But the goal is to play a standard season, and incidentally when we went into our planning of this current season we played a bit of an unusual finish to the regular season, but it was very important to the players and to the league and the teams that we play our standard playoffs which is what we’re in the process of doing now," Silver said.
Another factor the NBA will have to consider as it makes plans for next season is the Olympics, which will be played next summer. That could potentially affect a number of Jazz players.
"I think it would be tough for us to make a decision in January based on the Olympics happening on schedule, when that's so unclear," Silver said. "I just add, there are a lot of great U.S. players and we may be up against the scenario where the top 15 NBA players aren’t competing in the Olympics, but other great American players are competing."
But it’s more than just American players. Utah’s Joe Ingles (Australia) and Rudy Gobert (France) are major pieces for their respective country’s teams — both which have already qualified for the games. Donovan Mitchell has also expressed his desire to suit up for Team USA again after representing the country in the World Cup last year.
"There are many NBA players who participate in the Olympics for other countries; that's something we're going to have to work through," Silver said. "I'd just say lastly, these are highly unique and unusual circumstances, and I think just as it is for the Olympic movement, it is for us as well and we're just going to have to sort of find a way to meld and mesh those two competing considerations."