The NBA plans to rush through the 2020 offseason and begin the 2020-21 season Dec. 1… just to rush through the 2020-21 season.
Frank Isola of The Athletic:
The NBA is looking at a potential Dec. 1 start for the 2020-21 season and a mid-July Finals. The hope is to keep NBA players — from every country — in play for the Olympics.
— Frank Isola (@TheFrankIsola) June 4, 2020
The NBA Finals normally begin 226 days after the regular-season opener with an 18-day window to play the best-of-seven series. So, based on a typical timeline, a Dec. 1 opener would mean the Finals would be held July 15 – Aug. 1., 2021.
The Tokyo Olympics are slated to begin July 23, 2021.
So, something must give.
It probably won’t be regular-season games. As much as the NBA would like its players to get exposure in the Olympics, owners will be extremely reluctant to surrender direct revenue. Likewise, the many NBA players not headed to the Olympics should share similar financial concerns.
More likely, the league will reduce the number of rest days during the 2020-21 season. That seems risky given the drastic disruptions already affecting conditioning entering the season.
It’s also possible players whose NBA teams advance deep enough in the playoffs just won’t be able to play in the Olympics (or Olympic Qualifying Tournaments, which are scheduled for June and July 2021).
Like with many things affected by coronavirus, there are no good answers – just hard decisions on what to compromise.