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NBA Contemplates Starting 2020-21 Season in December

Written by:
Mary Montgomery
Published on:
May/01/2020

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA board of governors continued discussions Friday about delaying the start of the 2020-2021 season until December, sources told ESPN.  It would likely begin just prior to Christmas, which is one of the biggest game days for the league.  The current season is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down sports globally. 


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For the NBA, the crux of the idea to delay the start of next season centers on the ability to buy more time to get fans back into arenas for the most possible games next season, sources said.

"If you start in December, that doesn't mean the people are coming back in December, but maybe they're back by March," one member of the board of governors told ESPN on Friday.

The NBA board of governors on Friday also voted to postpone two May events -- the draft lottery and the draft combine.

As for resuming this season's play, workouts may begin May 8, the earliest, with only four players allowed in the building at one time.  Not all facilities will be open. The league is considering the idea of a quarantined zone where games could be played persists.  The league has reportedly rejected the concept of quarantining players without family members.

"There are so many layers that would have to come into play for [a bubble] to even happen," Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association, said last week. "We would have to know exactly what that would look like. There's a lot of hypotheticals out there."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier Thursday night that the NBA expects it will need in the neighborhood of 15,000 tests to complete its season if it is able to resume play.

The NBA is working with academic centers, labs and medical test developers to contribute to advances in testing for sports and the public, but nationwide testing capacity is still falling short of where health advisers the league consults say it needs to be. Until that is resolved, it is unlikely the NBA would use such resources, league sources said.

"I do think it would be disturbing to many if there was massive testing that was available to a sports league at a time when people who are in high-risk situations were still having a difficult time getting access to testing," said Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general who has advised the NBA on the coronavirus.

ESPN’s  Tim Bontemps and Brian Windhorst noted some other possible scanarios:

One in which eight games per day are played using just two courts to host concurrent games akin to a summer league.   Using this concept the season can be completed in 33 days. A full four-round postseason, with minimal days off, would take a maximum of 55 days to complete.

An alternative framework could shorten this timeline and reduce the number of people needed to finish the season by skipping directly to the playoffs using the current standings. Bringing in 16 teams rather than 30 would cut the number of people in the bubble roughly in half and potentially cut time away from home by more than a month.

The lower number of people also would keep contact between different teams to a minimum -- something medical officials advise would be prudent, as it would further reduce the chance of proliferation in the event of an infection.

- Mary Montgomery, Gambling911.com

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