When talk of finding a way to finish the NBA season in a bubble first came up, the talk was the latest the NBA wanted to push the season back was Labor Day weekend at the start of September. Then the league wouldn’t start next season until December, maybe on Christmas Day.
However, Labor Day became “mid-September” according to some sources, and then the Lakers’ Jared Dudley Tweeted this (referring to Adam Silver’s call with players on Friday).
I heard even Oct from Adam Silver today… https://t.co/51gBWTTW7I
— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) May 9, 2020
In theory the NBA could go as late as it wanted to finish this season and crown a champion, but longer the season drags out the later next season starts. Does the NBA want to start next season after Christmas? Or, because of this long break, is the NBA willing to condense next offseason down to six weeks or less? The December start of next season seems more and more likely, whether or not this NBA season is completed (the later the NBA starts, the more games they likely can have fans in the arena).
The other question factoring in how long the season goes: How committed is the NBA to having all 30 NBA teams back and playing some regular season games? Not all the owners like that idea, for teams well out of the playoffs it’s an added expense with no gate revenue generated. What is their incentive, aside from the good of the game? The NBA wants to make any playoff and championship as legitimate as possible — there’s going to be an asterisk in people’s minds no matter what — and some regular season games helps with that (and conditioning), but playing any games just pushes back the end of the season. That’s why a play-in tournament for seeds 7-10 (or maybe 12) has gained some traction.
If the NBA sets up a 25-day training camp and a 55-day playoffs schedule (ESPN reported that’s the number the league is using), we’re at 80 days in the bubble (and the players don’t love the bubble idea, being kept in a hotel/resort that long without going home). To end the season on Sept. 13 the league would have to start training camps in late June to fit in the 80 days. Add any regular season or play-in tournament games, and everything gets pushed back later.
Silver said to the players on Friday there are no good options, the league is trying to pick the best from a series of bad options. An NBA season that runs into October is certainly a bad option, but it’s on the table and may be less bad than other choices.
Right now, everything is up in the air.