Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, teams and players have come to an agreement for the new season to start on December 22nd.
Many teams and players were earlier of the opinion that a December restart would be too close to the end of last season. The NBA Finals ended on October 11th with a Game 6 between the Heat and the Lakers. The Celtics and Nuggets played their last games of the playoffs in late September.
At least 22 teams – 73% of the league – have not played any basketball for over 2 months now already. Thus, a December 22 start to the new season does not impede their ability to rest their players ahead of the 2020-21 season.
What made it imperative for the NBA to choose a December 22 restart to the league?
First of all, a reduced season means reduced wages for players involved. Given that a regular season normally comprises of 82 games, this compressed schedule with over 12% of the games not being played means a proportionate salary cut for all players. The season has been reduced by 10 games for each team because of the Olympics, to be played soon after the regular season ends.
The NBPA player rep vote has completed, approving a December 22 start/72-game regular season, source tells ESPN. Next up: NBA/NBPA finishes financial terms on amended CBA, which will take into next week. Expect trade moratorium to be lifted shortly prior to Nov. 18 Draft.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 6, 2020
Some teams, like the Lakers and the Heat, were pushing for a restart on Martin Luther King Day or January 18th. But that would have meant even fewer regular season games. The NBA played hardball with these days, saying they would only accept a 50-game season if the January date came to pass.
A 50-game season would have meant a 40% wage cut for all players. Clearly, nobody wanted their paychecks affected, so these teams fell in line eventually.
In addition, the most-viewed regular season games of any season normally are the Christmas Day games. This schedule allows the NBA to pack the holiday with great matches all around, increasing its TV revenues.
The Olympics, scheduled to start on 23rd July, affect the season schedules of all team sports. Team USA would like to send a strong team to this competition and keep its 3-gold streak intact. Thus, a decision to start the season early made sense.