The NBA (i.e., owners) scheduled the start of next season for Dec. 1.
But the players’ union reportedly expects that to get postponed into February. There’s even talk of delaying until March.
Yet, the league hadn’t updated that announced Dec. 1 start date.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver on ESPN:
December 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me. I think our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas. My sense is, in working with the Players Association, if we could push back even a little longer and it would increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.
Though he didn’t say anything definitive, Silver even talking this way publicly gives a clear message: Everyone expects next season to start later than Dec. 1. And if next season gets delayed, the preceding free agency and draft could get delayed.
Contrary to Silver’s claim, the NBA’s No. 1 goal is not getting fans back into arenas. The NBA’s No. 1 goal is making money. Fans in arenas are a means to the end.
So, there’s risk in postponing. That’s extending the time of producing practically no revenue. And with so much uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, the wait for fans in arenas would be indefinite.
To counter that revenue decline, would owners try to trim costs by reducing players’ collective salaries below the current level (about 50% of revenue)? That’s at least possible.
Delaying would present other complications. Some teams will have incredibly long offseasons. The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for July and August 2021. Unless the NBA starts near the date it wants to begin future normal seasons, resetting the annual calendar will be challenging.
So, the league might not wait for fans attendance to become viable. Regional bubbles are the current trendy alternative.
But as Silver’s revelation shows, so much is fluid.