The NBA is planning to have 25-50 percent capacity in arena suites for the 2020-21 season, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Thursday afternoon. The League wants to have some fans in the arenas for games during the upcoming season, but due to the coronavirus COVID-19 it will depend on statewide restrictions. Masks and social distancing protocols will also be in affect until a vaccine is found and things are deemed safe for fans.
The NBA is expected to make a decision on the start of the 2020-21 season this week, per reports that have been popping up this week. Multiple outlets say that the League is working toward starting the season on Dec. 22 with training camp set to begin on Dec. 1. We know that the 2020 NBA Draft is taking place virtually on Wednesday, Nov. 18. After that, we expect NBA free agency to begin some time that weekend, either on Nov. 20 or 21.
It’s good that we’re beginning to get a sense of the 2020-21 calendar. The proposed start date of Dec. 22 means that the season would be shortened to 72 games. This would help end the season around the beginning of July, before the Summer Olympics begin. The Olympics figure to create too much competition for the NBA Playoffs, specifically the Finals, which would likely be going on at the same time. That would mean lower ratings again and fewer dollars coming back.
The League has already lost enough money and would have been in line to lose even more had the season been pushed to a Jan. 18 start date on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Players were pushing for that later start to get additional rest during the offseason. Unfortunately, it would have meant billions of dollars of revenue lost in the process. The players are already accepting 18 percent escrow on their salaries for the next two years because of the situation, per reports.