The NBA may be eyeing an earlier start to the 2020-21 season than recently projected, according to Bill Simmons of The Ringer.
Recent reports suggested the league may have to wait until as late as February or March to tip off again. Also, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and players union executive director Michele Roberts have both indicated next season won’t tip off before 2021.
Simmons said it could be somewhere in there, though the league would prefer to make it sooner rather than later.
“There’s a lot of indication that the NBA might start a lot sooner than anybody thought,” Simmons said on his podcast. “I think the thinking is, I mean Christmas would be the ideal, but I don’t think they could pull it together that fast. But if you do it by Martin Luther King weekend range. Somewhere between Christmas and Martin Luther King weekend.
“The thinking is this next season is screwed now. Because fans aren’t going to be back until god only knows? April? May? Who knows? But they have to preserve the season after. The later they wait to start this season, the more it [expletive] with the next season.
“So the move, which I think they’re starting to talk themselves into, and I know they have talks with the networks this week… But you bite the bullet, you start it sooner than later. You go like 72 games, 70 games, something like that. Get rid of the All-Star break…”
Silver has said he obviously would prefer a season in which fans are back in the buildings, at least to some degree. That would involve some tinkering with the schedule, Simmons said.
“The thing that they learned is nobody watches television in August. Regardless of whether there’s a pandemic or not,” Simmons said. “The ratings are just not going to be as good. September was a catastrophe going against football. And then the election every four years, things like that. You know what really worked? Having the Finals in June and then the offseason in July and you own those two months. They want to get back to that, or some version of that. To do that, you have to start the next season sooner than later.
“But I was surprised because I thought it wasn’t going to start until March or April. But now it sounds like it’s going to be sooner.”
It has been estimated the league lost around $694 in revenue this past season.