NBA ponders pushing season to December

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NBA update May 2020 Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum/NBA

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is contemplating pushing back the start of the 2020-21 season to December in order to buy more time to complete the 2019-20 campaign this year.

The National Basketball Association is a men’s professional basketball league in North America, comprising 30 teams. It is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, and is widely considered to be the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.

This stance of the NBA which has gained growing support from team owners – was discussed by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s Board of Governors on May 1.

The NBA Board of Governors also decided to indefinitely postpone the NBA Draft and Combine, which were scheduled to be held in Chicago (US) this month, as COVID-19 continue to devastate the world over. The league has not yet voted to delay the NBA draft on June 25, but sources said it will also get postponed.

There are no imminent plans to make a decision on the calendar, and this discussion will continue, sources said.

“If you start in December, that doesn’t mean the people are coming back in December, but maybe they’re back by March,” one member of the Board of Governors said.

If this season resumes and is completed sometime in September — or even October — the delay of the 2020-21 seasons is inevitable.

Talks have revolved on a season that would start before Christmas and extend into late July or early August. The NBA draft and free agency would follow the end of the season.

Talks centering on delaying the 2020-21 seasons also aim to pull to the venue as many paying spectators as possible for the next campaign, taking into account the fact that coronavirus cases abate the world over. The NBA remains indefinitely suspended and is examining various options to return to action. The league has revised its timetable to allow individual workouts at team facilities to begin this month.

National Hockey League

The National Hockey League (NHL) is also considering starting its 2020-21 seasons as late as December.

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and seven in Canada.

The league previously said it did not anticipate an extension or lengthening of the presently suspended 2019-20 seasons would preclude a normal schedule for the following year. But, as the world continues to wrestle with coronavirus, the NHL is now thinking more broadly about timing as safety remains top on its list of priority.

“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

“There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try to make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back,” Bettman added.

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