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NBA could be back for Christmas after league proposes new schedule

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Oct. 23, 2020 at 3:45 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — For the last few months, the NBA season has been getting pushed back. That trend appears to have done a 180.

The NBA is considering a December start to the 2020-21 season, has confirmed.

The proposed schedule, which the NBA and the board of governors discussed Friday, has a new target start date of Dec. 22 and the season would be trimmed to around 72 games, according to multiple reports.

It would allow the NBA to hold its annual Christmas Day slate of games, the Finals would be able to return to June and the season would end before the 2021 Olympics. ESPN reports the shortened season would include a play-in tournament and the likelihood of not holding an All-Star Weekend.

In essence, the proposed schedule would allow the NBA to return to a more regular schedule. Players would get a true offseason next summer and would have the option to represent their country in the Olympics. Utah's Donovan Mitchell (USA), Rudy Gobert (France) and Joe Ingles (Australia) all have been on national teams in the past.

The downside, though, is a quick offseason that could end up feeling quite chaotic. The only official date the NBA has set for the offseason is the NBA draft, which will be held on Nov. 18. Everything else from free agency to training camp start dates is still in question. Because of the quick turnaround, some teams have pushed for one around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the earlier start does have support.

Once a decision on the season has been made, the board of governors will have to take it to the National Basketball Players Association. And the schedule is not the only thing the two sides need to discuss.

Agreements still have to be made on many matters, including adjustments to the salary cap, the luxury tax and other financial parameters based on updated projected revenue for next season. Before the money questions are settled, it's unlikely an official schedule will be set. According to ESPN, the two sides have agreed on an Oct. 30 deadline to complete negotiations on making modifications to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 season.

Aside from money matters and the schedule, the NBA also needs to come up with a plan for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic now that it has left the confines of the bubble, which is something the league doesn't want to have to return to. The NBA has been studying what the NFL and Major League Baseball have done in their return to play to get an idea of what their options are.

"In many ways, we're looking at a lot of the same factors we looked at determining what to do this season," Silver said last month.

That's partially why the target date for next season has been constantly changing. The league initially targeted Dec. 1 before constantly moving it back. Just last month, Silver said, "I continue to believe that we're going to be better off getting into January."

And that may still be the case. But another option is now on the table.

Ryan Miller

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