Now that the 2019-2020 NBA season has concluded, the focus for the NBA will shift to successfully starting the 2020 season. Adam Silver has made it clear that the NBA will not return bubble format if possible , which was extremely successful on all accounts. The unintended consequences of the bubble have become clear months later. There have been numerous reports of players feeling extremely anxious and unhappy while in the bubble. The most notable one being Paul George who told the media about his struggles during the restart.
This is concerning, but in reality the main motivation for moving back to arenas is revenue for the teams. While the bubble was efficient and extremely safe, the length of time away from family and normal routine had an effect on all players. Some people might argue that a bubble is necessary to safely play out the whole season, but the league would much rather have teams playing in their home arenas for this year.
Back when Adam Silver and the league were trying to figure out a plan for the restart, COVID was the number one concern. It seems like this will be the case again as COVID cases across the United States are spiking in concerning fashion. Nevertheless , the NBA season would usually start in mid October, but that is obviously not a reality for this season. The biggest challenge will be trying to figure out a starting date that works for everyone, so the offseason with the draft and free agency can continue on as scheduled. As of right now, the draft is scheduled for November 18th, which would give the NBA a few weeks to conduct free agency, and figure out the salary cap for this year’s season.
As for a definite start date, Shams Charania reported that the league is aiming for a December 22 start to the season, with the implementation of a 72 game schedule, rather than the full 82 games.
If this sounds like it might be too soon, that’s because it is. Originally, Adam Silver had told CNN that there was no way the season would start before 2021. The sudden change in stance from the league is understandable. A December 22nd start would allow the league to fit all the offseason activities in, and still start before Christmas Day and MLK Day which are both staples for the NBA. The league’s rush to return to play makes sense, with the ultimate goal of getting back on track and fixing the schedule.
With this announcement, there have been reports that some players might sit out for the beginning of the season. On the Ringer NBA Show, Danny Green expressed his concern with the announcement, and how it might affect the Lakers and other veterans around the league.While talking about Lebron he said “To have that quick of a restart, I wouldn’t expect to see him there,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect to see him the first month of the season. … I just don’t expect guys to want to be there, or show up willingly.”
It’s understandable for Danny Green and other Lakers veterans to feel that way after arriving at Orlando in early July and not leaving until October. Teams that didn’t make the playoffs, or made early exits are probably in favor of getting the season started sooner rather than later. Green acknowledged this by saying “It’s tough when you have different voices, and the majority is against us probably,” Green acknowledged. “So it’s a possibility, but I don’t think that it will, for us to go back to normal, which a lot of us are begging for and the league is begging for. And obviously, it makes sense with TV deals, money – all that makes sense to at least have it open for at least half the fans, or however you do it.”
It will be difficult to get everyone on board for a December restart, but it seems like the NBA will push for this format. It has been reported that starting the season in December rather than January or later could save the league 500 million in revenue. While nothing has been officially confirmed, it seems like we are headed for a December 22 start to the NBA 2020 season. It will be interesting to see if other veterans around the league voice their concerns about starting back up so soon. But with no possibility for a bubble, the biggest challenge will be containing COVID, and keeping players and teams safe. As we’ve seen with the NFL and all sports, outbreaks seem like they will be inevitable if players and staff are going home everyday, and traveling across the country on a weekly basis. Hopefully the NBA will put the right protocols and precautions in place to keep the spread of COVID at a minimum. With the success of the bubble, it seems like the NBA is very capable of this, so only time will tell whether or not the NBA can pull this off.