It's believed the NBA's 22-team model to crown a champion for the season suspended on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic will tip off on July 31, with Game 7 of the NBA Finals is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12.
Last week, The Athletic's Shams Charania and NBA insider Frank Isola reported the NBA is targeting Dec. 1 as the opening night for the 2020-21 season. Isola added this start date "is to keep NBA players — from every country — in play for the Olympics."
As ESPN's Tim Bontemps reported, Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk spoke on Tuesday during a conference call about why such a short offseason would separate the competitions:
"Because of this circumstance, I think the league wants to stay as close to its original schedule as possible. There's a lot of different reasons for that — the college season, the draft and how all of that plays out. So that's why they've laid out a timeline where it would be a very quick turnaround from the NBA Finals to the start of the season.
"If you're going from the middle of October to starting the season (on) the 1st of December, if you are one of the teams in the Finals, that's quick. But they want to try to stay as close to the historical timing as possible. So I don't think this is something you'll see stick. They've talked to us on one of our GM calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year. More so than in the past. As you know, there's been a big drive to avoid back-to-backs and certainly four in five nights, but we might find ourselves in a situation next year where it would be much more condensed."
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed to 2021 because of the virus outbreak. Those Games were rescheduled for July 23 through Aug. 8, but there remain concerns the Olympics could be canceled without the existence of a widely-available COVID-19 vaccine.
Olympic basketball tournaments feature many of the NBA's best players and, thus, are arguably its best international advertisements in any given decade.
Even still, the National Basketball Players Association would have to agree to terms for an altered or shortened season and do so before a final decision is announced regarding the 2021 Olympics.