In recent weeks, it seemed as if the NBA was becoming more and more open to a later start date for the 2020-21 season. Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts publicly suggested that the season was unlikely to begin until January, while some reports suggested that a February or March opening night was more realistic.
However, that changed on Friday, when word broke that the league is now looking to tip off its ’20-21 campaign before Christmas. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the NBA’s finance committee played a major role in that abrupt pivot.
“The owners’ finance committee – there’s a group of owners who make up the finance committee – had a meeting and in that meeting they looked at everything and decided ‘You know what? We need to play sooner rather than later,'” Windhorst said on his Hoop Collective podcast, per RealGM.
“It’s interesting Silver talked behind the scenes about waiting until a March time-frame if it meant getting a vaccine,” one NBA insider told Berman. “That’s until the finance committee showed him the numbers.”
Tipping off the 2020-21 season before Christmas would allow the NBA to air games on Dec. 25, which is one of the most important days of the year for the league’s TV partners. It would also allow the league to hold its playoffs in the spring, with the Finals taking place at the very start of summer, instead of in the late summer and fall like this year. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported over the weekend that the NBA believes its new plan could mean salvaging $500 million in potential revenue.
“The priority is getting back to the October-to-June format for 2021-22,” a source told Berman. “They found out the hard way not enough people watch TV in the summer. The virus and real-life struggles obscure the reality that sports on TV in the summer don’t generate enough viewers.”
Here are a few more items related to the NBA’s tentative plans for the 2020-21 season: