It’s been an odd NBA season, to say the least. An almost five-month layoff during the pandemic lockdown. A bubble in Florida. The NBA Finals in October. Well, get used to a new normal, because the league and the National Basketball Players Association have been having serious discussions about making major changes to future seasons. They really have no choice, considering teams would already be in training camp for the upcoming season if 2020 was anything but the strangest year any of us have experienced.

So here’s the first question: When will next season start? “The latter part of January, February makes sense,” the head of the NBPA, Michele Roberts, told The Athletic today. “If it’s later than that, if we have a terrible winter because the virus decides to reassert herself, that’s fine. The absolute earliest would be January, and that’s doable.”

The good news for NBA fans who miss watching the game in person is it looks like the bubble will be popped when these finals end. The goal is to play a full 82-game schedule next season, in NBA cities, in front of real fans. The crowds will most likely be reduced, but they won’t be cardboard or digitally rendered.

Here’s something else the league has learned: Competing with the NFL doesn’t make a lot of sense. Team owners want to push the season back to a starting time around Christmas.

“Even before COVID happened, there was a conversation about starting our season later,” Roberts told The Athletic. “It may very well be that our regular schedule is going to change, not so much because of COVID, but because of the ability to experiment. I wouldn’t bet on returning to the old normal.”


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