With the bubble experiment all wrapped up, the NBA can breathe a sigh of relief that they could successfully pull off that impressive feat and crown a champion without having no positive COVID-19 cases. However, there is only little time to celebrate for them to figure out what to do about next season.
The originally targeted date on December 1 is absolutely not happening, and Adam Silver said that the NBA was looking at early 2021 to start 2020-21 season, even though it will happen exclusively in 2021. According to John Hollinger (The Athletic), Jan. 18 is the new target, as for a specific date.
When Silver said that the league was looking at some start date in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan.18), which has become an important date on the league’s calendar since the past few years, always seemed like the logical choice. It presents an easy way for the NBA to turn opening night into a real event. Hollinger added that they are planning to give teams eight weeks to notice ahead of the start, which would mean Nov. 23.
After nailing down the start date, the NBA has to manage to actually design the schedule. It remains unclear whether the COVID-19 crisis is going to be under control so that fans can be allowed to get into arenas for the next season. That issue will mostly impact the league’s decision making. In addition, they will have to consider whether travel restrictions will be placed for the Toronto Raptors when it comes to going to and from Canada, and the Olympic Games in Japan. Although Silver confirmed that the league will not likely to pause for the Tokyo Olympics, they will still have to consider that event when planning the next season.
Moreover, Hollinger also noted that the NBA is taking into account the possibility of playing multi-game series in order to cut down on travel as well as speed up the speed to get through the season.