The NBA is back already. In just a few weeks, players will head to their home markets for training camp and gear up for the next season.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Yo, didn’t the Lakers JUST win the title?” And, yes, they did. That is correct. And they’re not that happy about this quick start.
But it’s happening. The NBA Player’s Association tentatively agreed to starting the season on December 22 in time for Christmas Day, according to the New York Times.
Now, there’s a slim chance that could change. And there are still things that need to be decided on. But it’s looking more and more like that’ll be the path the league takes.
Once they do make it official, things will happen fast. Here’s what you need to know to keep up.
What’s the timeline?
Things are going to be moving extremely quickly and it all starts with the NBA draft.
Right now, teams are still gathering information and preparing to make their draft picks. After that, things are really uncertain. Here’s a quick timeline of what we have so far.
NBA Draft — November 18
Training camp — December 1
Regular season opener — December 22
So what’s missing?
Right now, we have no idea when free agency will start – and that’s a big deal. It can’t be too long after the draft — there are only about two weeks between the draft and the start of training camp.
Teams don’t want to be stuck in the position where they’re making new acquisitions and trying to get them up to speed in the middle of training camp with just three weeks left before the regular season. It’s going to be a tight squeeze.
We also don’t know when teams will be able to make trades again. The trade deadline from February is still in effect since last season has, technically, not ended on the league office side.
How do they fix this?
The league and the players are in negotiations right now trying to figure this thing out.
They extended their negotiation deadline for a modified CBA to November 9, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, which is on Monday. The hope is that they’ll have some answers then.
But they’ve already moved the deadline twice and the two sides have struggled to come to an agreement. The players tentatively agreeing to this start is a positive sign, though.
And then, beyond that, they have to figure out a schedule. No one even knows who they’re playing yet.
Why won’t they give themselves more time? This seems wild.
It is pretty wild. The league’s offseason will only be 71 days — that’s not much of an offseason at all. And it’ll be even harder to integrate new rookies and signings into their new spots.
So, yeah, it’s a tough squeeze. Why are they doing it this way? Money, basically. Their December 22 would reportedly reduce the NBA’s losses for this season by $500 million, per the New York Times.
The league is also trying to avoid a scheduling conflict with the 2021 Olympics, which will begin next July.
But isn’t this dangerous?
Absolutely. There’s no bubble this time, so players will literally be traveling in the middle of a pandemic.
Some of them will also not be well-rested — particularly the conference finalists from last season. There’s lots of risk that comes with this. But it seems, at least for now, both sides are willing to forgo that to put more money in their pockets.
As a result, we’ll get basketball a lot sooner than we thought we would. Hopefully, it doesn’t end terribly.